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Encyclopedia of 


and the 

Muslim World 


Editor in Chief 

Richard C. Martin 

Professor of Islam, /story of Religions 

Emory University, Atlanta 

Associate Editors 

Sa'fd Amir Arjomand 
Professor of Sociology 
State University of New York, Sto 

Marcia Hermansen 
Professor of Theology 

Loyola I iiiversity, Chicago 

Abdulkader Tayob 

University of Cape Town, South Africa 
International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Netherlands 

Assistant Editor 

Rochelle Davis 

Teaching Fellow, Introduction to the Humanities Program 

Stanford University 

Editorial Consultant 

John O. Voll 

Center for Muslim Christian Understanding 
Georgetown University 

Encyclopedia of 


and the 

Muslim World 

Editor in Chief 
Richard C. Martin 

Volume 1 





Encyclopedia of 


and the 

Muslim World 

Editor in Chief 
Richard C. Martin 

Volume 2 
M-Z, Index 








Encyclopedia of Islam 

Richard C. Martin, Editor in Chief 

For more information, contact 
Macmillan Reference USA 
300 Park Avenue South, 9th Floor 
New York, NY 10010 


ie copyright 


No part of this work covered 
hereon may be reproduced or used in 
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Robert Azzi / Aramco World. 

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ensure the reliability of the information 
presented in this publication. The Gale Group 
Inc. does not guarantee the accuracy of 
the data contained herein. The Gale Group, 
Inc. accepts no payment for listing; and 
inclusion in the publication of any 
organization, agency, institution, publication, 
service, or individual does not imply 
endorsement of the editors or publisher. 
Errors brought to the attention of the 
publisher and verified to the satisfaction of 
the publisher will be corrected in future 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim world / edited by Richard C. 

p. cm. 
Includes bibliographical references and index. 

1. Islam — Encyclopedias. I. Martin, Richard C. 
BP40.E525 2003 
909'. 097671— dc21 


? for ordering information. 




List of entries 

List of contributors. 
Synoptic outline of en 
List of maps 


Appendix: Genet, ', > ■ ) 

Index 185 


Editorial and Production Staff 

Kate Millson and Corrina Moss 
Project Editors 

n Cerrito, Melissa Hill, and Mark Mikula 
Editorial Support 

Jonathan Aretakis 
Copy Chief 

Nancy Gratton 
Copy Editor 

Ann McClothlin Weller 

Barbara Coher 

Barbara Yarrow 

Manager, hnu media Content 

Dean Dauphinais 

Senior Editor, imedia Content 

Lezlie Light 

Deanna Raso 
Photo Researcher 

Shalice Shah-Caldwell 
Research Associate 

Cynthia Baldwin and Jennifer Wahi 

. Irt Directors 


Mary Beth Trimper 

Mil linger. Cum position 

Evi Seoud 

i 1 / i ' 

Rhonda Williams 

Print Buyer 


Frank Menchaca 
Vice President 

Helene Potter 
>-, New Product Devel 


A growing numl hired that the twenty-first century will be the 

era of Islam. Such predictions, whether intended in a positive or negative light, err in failing to 
appreciate the spread and influence of Islam during the past millennium and a half, especially on 
the continents of Asia and Africa. Nonetheless, events during the first decade of the new 
millennium have undersci and understand- 

ing the great diversity and richness of Muslim social, cultural, and religious practices. Suicide 
bomber attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, 
D.C., on September 11, 2001, killed over three thousand persons. These tragic events and the 
media coverage of the aftermath as well as of the two wars subsequently fought in the Muslim 
countries of Afghanistan and Iraq ha - shown how little is known in the West about 

Islam and the Muslim world. Islam is, and has been for nearly fifteen centuries, a global religious 
and political phenomenon. Muslim networks of communication, from the annual pilgrimage to 
Mecca to the vast new power of the World Wide Web, have enabled Muslims to establish 
postmodern identities in a rapidly changing world, while at the same time preserving and 
reinvigorating a • flshaii mid the 

Muslim World is a sourcebook of information about Islam, its past and present, addressed to 
students and general readers as the twenty-first century begins its first decade. 

The Emyclop presents in two volumes some 504 articles, 

alphabetically arranged, in incremental lengths generally of 200, 500, 1,000, 3,000, and 5,000 
words. The work of some 500 scholars appears in these pages, carefully reviewed and edited in a 
common style for easy access by readers who may presently have limited or no knowledge of 
Islam. It has also been prepared as a teaching and learning resource for teachers and students, 
from the high sc icles that follow, 

in the List of Articles, will enable readers to locate topics of interest quickly. A synoptic outline of 
'in, found within the frontmatter on pages xxxi-xxxiv, provides 
readers with an overview by topic and subtopic of the ra I ion presented in 

the main body of the Eur, rawings, maps, and charts 

appear throughout the two volumes. A glossary in the back matter of volume two, which lists 
commonly used Arabic and other Islamic terms, such as shari'a, or "Islamic law," will enable 
general readers to determine quickly the meaning of essential In amiliar terms in 

Islamic studies. 

The Encyclopedia is truly an international work that it. ily of ideas and practices 

that have charac : it its history. This diversity is reflected among 

the editors who organized and compiled this work and the scores of scholars who wrote the 
articles contained in it. The associate editors' national < i da, Iran, and South Africa; 

their religious affiliations or backg Islam; and their scholarly 

training has been in sociology, the history of religions, and Islamic studies. An even greater 

diversity exists among the contributing scholars who live and teach in North America, Europe, 
Africa, and Asia, including the Middle East. They represent the fields of history, philosophy, 
religious studies, anthropology , sociology , political science, and the fine arts, among others. In its 
totality, then, this work represents a broad expanse of scholarly know ledge about Islam, accessible 
in two volumes. 

Islam increasingly is recognized as a vital force in the contemporary world, a source of 
collective social identity, and religions expression for over one billion people around the world, 
who comprise a fifth of the global population. Public interest in learning about Islam is a very 
recent phenomenon, however. Events of the past few decades have generated a demand for 
information about Islam on an unprecedented scale in the history of Islamic studies in the West. 
In negative terms, these events include violence: the colonial and postcolonial encounters 
between Europeans and Muslims in Asia and Africa, the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Hindu- 
Muslim clashes in otith l i t bian hni 1 isingofM liu >< |>m1 Lion i 1 the Balkans, and 
the heavily televised American led wars in the Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In positive terms, the 
recent years have seen productive Muslim diaspora communities emerge in Europe and the 
Americas, Islamic patterns of democracy and civil society develop in some countries in Africa and 
Asia, and venues of dialogue arise among Muslims, Jews, and Christians about their common 
moral and social concerns as well as their differences. That non-Muslims are learning more about 
Islam and their Muslim neighbors through iools like this encyclopedia must also be counted as a 
positive turn, and a much-needed one. 

Scholars, journalists, and writers of all soils have responded robustly to this new ly recognized 
importance of Islam and the Muslim world, thus creating a wealth of information about Islam 
now available in bookstores, libraries, and newsstands around the world. More significant for 
readers of this work, the Internet hosts an expanding plethora of Web sites on Islamic teachings, 
practices, sectarian groups, and organizations. Many Web sites are sponsored by Muslim 
scholars, organizations, and institutions and provide authentic, and sometimes competing, 
information about Islamic beliefs and practices. Unfortunately, others offer hostile interpreta- 
tions of Islam. The Entydt ' fl i unci \In World i le igned to help students and 
general readers cope w ith this grow ing demand and almost overw helming supply of information. 

The decision to call ihi vork t lie Enc) Jit it I the M \ ill I w is made after 

considering other, less felicitous alternatives. The editors wanted to produce a work that was 
about Islamic cultures, religion, history, politics, and the like as well as the people who have 
identified with Islam over the past fourteen centuries. For the scope of the social and cultural 
aspects of the subject matter of the Encyclopedia, the editors chose the phrase "Muslim World." 
The label "Muslim World" is not meant l< u L ill L di rsi in i iri H ne lacking in what 
Muslims think, believe, and do as Muslims. Nor is the Muslim World as represented in this work 
to be thought of as separate from the rest of the world. Indeed, it will be clear' Lo readers of articles 
on virtually all topics included below that islamic history and Muslim people have been deeply 
and richly engaged in anil interacting with world history and are perhaps even more so in the 
modern world, as the late Marshall G. S. Hodgson so persuasively argued in his monumental 
three-volume w rk, The I ' < 11 World Civil if Ion (1974). 

The grow ing demand for accessible know ledge about Islam in recent decades has produced a 
number of histories, encyclopedias, and dictionaries dial serve different purposes. In addition to 
Hodgson's comprehensh e historical essay on Islamic ci\ ilization, The Cambridge History of Mam 
(1970) brought together substantial treatments of historic al periods ADi' geographical regions of 
Islamic societies. Another important and even older work that is v, idely used by scholars is the 
ongoing project known as the Encyclopaedia of Islam. The first edition was published in four 
volumes in Leiden (1908-1938); the second and much larger edition recently reached its 
completion in twice as many volumes with a significant!) expanded list of contributing scholars; 
in tin d ii litioni n< cbein plann l.The Encyclopedia of 7 I the M \hm World brings 

to general readers in accessible form the rich tradition of serious scholarship on Islam and Muslim 
peoples found m in ' ' // / i i / /' nd i dd sses information 

about Islam in the twenty-first century that is not discussed in the older sources. More recently, 

the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modem hlmiiie II 'odd (1W5) appeared in lour volumes. The locus of 
this latter work is, as the title suggests, on Islam in the modern world, generally dated from the 
beginning the eighteenth century through the last decade of the twentieth. The Encyclopedia of 
Islam and the Muslim World by contrast seeks to contextualize contemporary Islam within the 
longer history of Islam, and it includes discussion of significant world es ents involving the Islamic 
world over the past decade. 

In pi | in mi i ii in I lam h Ik nigh >1 m mi >1 he traditional as 

well as the more recent aspects of Islam in newer categories. Thus, for example, readers will find 

articles covering "Material Culture, 'Vernacular Islam," "Identity, Muslim," "Secularism," 

"Disputation," and "Expansion of Islam." A major feature of the Encyclopedia is the large number 
of brief biographical sketches (nearh two hundred) of major figures in Islamic history, men and 
women, past and present. The editors also included articles on several important and sometimes 
contested ethical and social issues, including "Ethnicity," "Gender," "Homosexuality," "Human 
Rights," and "Masculinities," along with the more traditional entries on gender (usually 
concentrating on the feminine roles) and marriage. The events of September 11, 2001, occurred 
after the Table of Contents was prepared and authors were commissioned to write the articles. 
Nonetheless, new articles on "Terrorism," "Usama bin Ladin," and "al-Qa c ida," among others, 
were added. 

History, of course, u ill continue to unfold lor humankind worldwide, including Muslims. The 
Encyclopedia includes a number of interpretive articles, such as "Ethics and Social Issues," which 
provide frameworks for understanding ongoing events in fslamic history. 

Editorial style is a matter of great importance in a work such as the Encyclopedia. Readers can 
easily get lost in technical terms and diacritical marks on words borrowed from Arabic and 
Persian. Integrating work from a great number of scholars from around the world, each with 
differing practices in academic expression and in transliterating Islamic languages into Latin 
letters, presented some challenges to the academic editors and the editorial staff at Macmillan. 
To make things easier on readers, especially for those not initiated into the argots of Islamic 
technical terms, the editors decided to minimize the diacritical marks on loanwords from Arabic, 

Persian. Urdu, Turkish, and other! 1 imi< I in mag ,. V> e< mi ui ig d anil ind copy editors to 

romanize those fslamic terms that have made it into the English language, such as jihad, hajj, and 
Ramadan, as evidenced by their inclusion in modern dictionaries such as Webster's Third New 
International Dictionary. Where it seemed helpful, editors supplied brief parenthetical definitions 
and identifications, both in the text and in the Glossary. 

The people who made this project possible brought great ideas to it, are extremely talented 
and competent, and were wonderful to work « ith. Helene Potter, Macmillan s Director of New 
Product Development, designed the project and brought to it a considerable knowledge about 
Islam, More than an industry leader, ] lelene became first and foremost a friend and colleague. 
She is an accomplished professional with an uncanny understanding of the knowledge industry 
she serves, < lorrina Moss, an Assistant Editor with Macmillan, worked on the project throughout 
and kept in touch daily on editorial ma, tiers large and small. To ( k.rrina went i lie unpleasant task, 
pleasantly administered, of keeping the associate editors and especially me on task. Elly 
Dickason, who was the publisher in 200!! when this project was approved, and Jonathan Arelakis, 
chief copy editor, also deserve expressions of praise and gratitude — Elly for supporting the 
project from the moment she reviewed it, and Jonathan for making sure the articles are factually 
and stylistically appropriate. 

My colleagues Said Arjomand, Marcia 1 lermansen, and Ahdulkader Tayob served as Associ- 
ate Editors. The associate editors brought broad vision and detailed knowledge to their tasks of 
helping to organize the contents ol 1 1 1 Encyclopea ind I am indebted to them for making my 
own knowledge limitations less problematic in producing it. Rochelle Davis, a specialist in Arabic 
and Islamic studies, served as Assistant Editor, responsible for reading page proofs and preparing 
the Glossary. However, she contributed much more to the Encyclopedia, with an eye for 
grammatical and content errors that greatly improved the penultimate draft. My friend and 

colleague of mam \ ears, John \ oil, Editorial Consultant, kindh ach ised llelene Potter and me of 
matters we should consider in the formative stages of planning die Encyclopedia, and he 
contributed several important articles to it. 

On behalf of Said, Marcia, Abdulkader, Rochelle, and John, I would like to dedicate this 

project to our many Muslim c\\u\ non Muslim colleagues around the world, u lib w hum we share 
the task of teaching and u riling about Islam in a high tech, troubled world that needs to know 
more about itself. To that end we hope this work will help disseminate useful knowledge about 
one of the world's great civilizations to those who have a desire and need to know. 

Richard C. Martin 

Creston, North Carolina 

August 15, 2003 

List of Entries 

'Abbas I, Shah 
Rudi Matthee 

c Abd al-Baha 5 
William McCants 

c Abd al-Hamid Ibn Badis 
Claudia Gazzini 

Abu 'l-Hasan Bani-Sadr 
Mazyar Lotfalian 

Abu 1-Hudhayl al-'Allaf 
M. Sait Ozervarli 

Abu 'l-Qasem Kashani 
Mohammad H. Faghfoc 

Ahmad Ibn Idris 
Knut S. Vikor 

Avril A. Powell 

Ahmad Khan, (Sir) Sayyid 
David Lelyveld 

c Abd al-Hamid Kishk (Shaykh) 


Ahmad, Mirza Ghulam 

Joel Gordon 

Tahir Fuzil 

Avril A. Powell 

c Abd al-Jabbar 



M. Sait Ozervarli 

Barbara D. Metcalf 

Sa'diyya Shaikh 

c Abd al-Karim Sorush 



Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi 

Muneer Goolam Fareed 

Gregory C. Kozlowski 

c Abd al-Nasser, Jamal 

Afghani, Jamal al-Din 


Joel Gordon 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

Robert Gleave 

c Abd al-Qadir, Amir 

Africa, Islam in 


Peter von Sivers 

David Robinson 

Azim Nanji 

c Abd al-Rahman Kawakibi 

African Culture and Islam 

c Ali 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

Abdin Chande 

Diana Steigerwald 

c Abd al-Razzaq al-Sanhuri 

Aga Khan 


Khaled Abou El-Fadl 

Azim Nanji 

David Lelyveld 

c Abd al-Wahhab, Muhammad Ibn 

Ahl al-Bayt 


Sohail H. Hashmi 

Juan Eduardo Campo 

C. Peterson 

c Abduh, Muhammad 

Ahl-e Hadis/Ahlal-Hadith 

American Culture and Isk 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

Barbara D. Metcalf 

Ihsan Bagby 

Abu Bakr 

Ahl al-Hadith 

Americas, Islam in the 

Rizwi Faizer 

R. Kevin Jaques 

Sylviane Anna Diouf 

Abu Bakr Gumi 

Ahl al-Kitab 

Andalus, al- 

Roman Loimeier 

Stephen Cory 

Aaron Hughes 

Abu Hanifa 

Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi 


Brarmon M. Wheeler 

Roman Loimeier 

Peter Lamborn Wilson 

Arabia, Pre-lslam 



Gordon D. Newby 

John Walbridge 

Sheila S. Blair 
Jonathan M. Bloom 

Arabic Language 

Baha'i Faith 

Kees Versteegh 

John Walbridge 

Timur Kuran 

Arabic Literature 

Balkans, Islam in the 

Gert Borg 

Frances Trix 

Cartography and Geography 
Karen C. Pinto 

Arab League 

Bamba, Ahmad 

Juan Eduardo Campo 

Lucy Creevey 

Central Asia, Islam in 
Devin DeWeese 


Banna, Hasan al- 

Central Asian Culture and Islam 

Sanlhi Lv;n nri Bauer 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

Devin DeWeese 


Baqillani, al- 


Sheila S. Blair 

M. Sait Ozervarli 

Elizabeth Warnock Fernea 

Jonathan M. Bloom 


Basri, Hasan al- 

Christianity and Islam 

Rkia E. Cornell 

Patrice C. Brodeur 

Aaron Hughes 

Ba'th Party 


Ash'arites, Ash'aira 
M. Sait Ozervarli 

F. Gregory Gause III 

Kathryn Kueny 

Bazargan, Mehdi 


Askiya Muhammad 
Ousmane Kane 

Mazyar Lotfalian 

Charlotte Jirousek 




Rochelle Davis 

Abdullah Saeed 

Uri Rubin 

Bid c a 


Jamal Malik 

Farhad Daftary 

Nico J. G. Kaptein 

Ahmad S. Dallal 

Bin Ladin, Usama 
Richard C. Martin 

Richard C. Campany, Jr. 
Conflict and Violence 


Biography and Hagiography 

A. Rashied Omar 

Ahmad S. Dallal 

Marcia Hermansen 


c Atabat 

Biruni, al- 

Peter B. Clarke 

Neguin Yavari 

Marcia Hermansen 


Ataturk, Mustafa Kemal 

Body, Significance of 

Warren C. Schultz 

A. Uner Turgay 

Brannon M. Wheeler 

Dar al-Harb 

Awami League 

Bourghiba, Habib 

John Kelsay 

Sufia Uddin 

John Ruedy 

Dar al-lslam 

Ayatollah (Ar. Ayatullah) 

Bukhara, Khanate and Emirate of 

John Kelsay 

Robert Gleave 

Florian Schwarz 


Diana Steigerwald 

Bukhari, al- 
Asma Afsaruddin 

David Westerlund 
Christer Hedin 
Torsten Janson 



Daw la 

William McCants 

Carel Bertram 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

Bab, Sayyed 'Ali Muhammad 



William McCants 

Aslam Farouk-Alli 

Juan Eduardo Campo 




Mona Hassan 

Muhammad Qasim Zaman 

Barbara D. Metcalf 

Devotional Life 
Gerard Wiegers 


Earle Waugh 

Dietary Laws 
Muneer Goolam Fareed 

Richard C. Martin 

Ziba Mir-Hosseini 

Dome of the Rock 
Sheila S. Blair 
Jonathan M. Bloom 

John C. Lamoreaux 

Muneer Goolam Fareed 

East Asia, Islam in 
Jacqueline M. Armijo 

East Asian Culture and Islam 
Jacqueline M. Armijo 

Economy and Economic Institutions 
Nora Ann Colton 

Jonathan Berkey 

Empires: Abbasid 
Matthew Gordon 

Empires: Byzantine 
Nadia Maria El Cheikh 

Empires: Mogul 
Iqtidar Alam Khan 

Empires: Mongol and ll-Khanid 
Charles Melville 

Empires: Ottoman 
Donald Quataert 

Empires: Safavid and Qajar 
Rudi Matthee 

Empires: Sassanian 
Henning L. Bauer 

Empires: Timurid 
Paul D. Buell 

Empires: Umayyad 
Alfons H. Teipen 

Erbakan, Necmeddin 


Linda T. Darling 

Marcia Hermansen 

Ethics and Social Issues 

Ghannoushi, Rashid al- 

Ebrahim Moosa 

Gudrun Kramer 



Haggai Erlich 

Robert Gleave 


Ghazali, al- 

Amal Rassam 

Ebrahim Moosa 


Ghazali, Muhammad al- 

Jane Hathaway 

Qamar-ul Huda 

European Culture and Islam 

Ghazali, Zaynab al- 

Jorgen S. Nielsen 

Ursula Gunther 

Europe, Islam in 


Jorgen S. Nielsen 

Said Amir Arjomand 


Grammar and Lexicography 

Fred M. Donner 

Kees Versteegh 

Fadlallah, Muhammad Husayn 

Greek Civilization 

Mazyar Lotfalian 

Oliver Leaman 



Parviz Morewedge 

Harald Motzki 

Farrakhan, Louis 

Hajj Salim Suwari, al- 

Aminah Beverly McCloud 

Abdulkader Tayob 

Fasi, Muhammad 'Allal al- 

Haj 'Umar al-Tal, al- 

David L. Johnston 

Abdin Chande 


Hallaj, al- 

Ursula Gunther 

Herbert W. Mason 



Daniel C. Peterson 

Tamara Sonn 

Feda 5 iyan-e Islam 


Fakhreddin Azimi 

Etin Anwar 


Haron, Abdullah 

Ghazala Anwar 




Claudia Gazzini 

Michael M. J. Fischer 

Sandra S. Campbell 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

Reeva Spector Simon 

Gasprinskii, Isma'il Bay 
A. Uner Turgay 

Zayn R. Kassam 

Hashemi-Rafsanjani, 'Ali-Akbar 

Majid Mohammaili 

Abdullahi Osman El-Tom 

Aaron Hughes 

Rizwi Faizer 

Hijri Calendar 
Ahmad S. Dallal 

islam and the Muslim World 

Hilli, 'Allama al- 

Ibn Hanbal 

Islamic Jihad 

Robert Gleave 

Susan A. Spectorsky 

Najib Ghadbian 

Hilli, Muhaqqiq al- 

Ibn Khaldun 

Islamic Salvation Front 

Robert Gleave 

R. Kevin Jaques 

David L. Johnston 

Hinduism and Islam 

Ibn Maja 

Islamic Society of North America 

Juan Eduardo Campo 
Anna Bigelow 


Robert Gleave 

Historical Writing 
Konrad Hirschler 

Hizb Allah 

Asma Afsaruddin 

Ibn Rushd 
Oliver Leaman 

Ibn Sina 
Shams C. Inati 

Ibn Taymiyya 
James Pavlin 

Identity, Muslim 
Daniel C. Peterson 

R. Kevin Jaques 

Isma'il 1, Shah 
Sholeh A. Quinn 

Ja'far al-Sadiq 
Liyakatali Takim 

Juan Eduardo Campo 

Tamara Sonn 

Hojjat al-lslam 
Robert Gleave 

Rizwi Faizer 

Jama'at-e Islami 

Hojjatiyya Society 
Majid Mohammadi 

Muneer Goolam Fareed 

Jamal Malik 
Jami c 

Holy Cities 
Aslam Farouk-Alli 

Everett K. Rowson 

Ikhwan al-Muslimin 
David L.Johnston 

Ikhwan al-Safa 
Azim Nanji 

Muneer Goolam Fareed 

Edward E. Curtis IV 
Jam'iyat-e 'Ulama-e Hind 

RasoolJa c fariyan 

Muhammad Qasim Zaman 

Jamal Malik 
Jam'iyat-e 'Ulama-e Islam 

Hospitality and Islam 
Khalid Yahya Blankinship 

Robert Gleave 

Jamal Malik 
Jam'iyat-e 'Ulama-e Pakistan 

Hukuma al-lslamiyya, al- (Islamic 

Anne H. Beueridge 

Jamal Malik 

Gudrun Kramer 


Juan Eduardo Campo 

Human Rights 
Ursula Gunther 

Bruce B. Lawrence 
Miriam Cooke 

Jevdet Pasha 
Linda T. Darling 

Irfan A. Omar 

Philip Mattar 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

Michael M. J. Fischer 

Iqbal, Muhammad 
David Lelyveld 

Jinnah, Muhammad 'AN 
Rasul Bakhsh Rais 

Husayni, Hajj Amin al- 
Philip Mattar 

Iran, Islamic Republic of 
Nancy L. Stockdale 

Judaism and Islam 
Gordon D. Newby 

Husayn, Taha 
Sohail H. Hashmi 

Ishraqi School 
Seyyed Hossein Nasr 

Parviz Morewedge 


Islam and Islamic 


Gerard Wiegers 

John O. Voll 

Thyge C. Bro 

Ibn c Arabi 

Islam and Other Religions 

Karaki, Shaykh c Ali 

William C. Chittick 

Patrice C. Brodeur 

Rulajurdi Abisaab 

Ibn Battuta 

Islamicate Society 


Thyge C. Bro 

R. Kevin Jaques 

Diana Steigerwald 

Kemal, Namek 
Linda T. Darling 

Khalid, Khalid Muhammad 
William Shepard 

Khamane'i, Sayyed c Ali 

Majid Mohammaili 

Khanqa (Khanaqa, Khanga) 
Leonor Fernandes 

Khan, Reza of Bareilly 
Barbara D.Metcalf 

Kharijites, Khawarij 
Annie C. Higgins 

Khidr, al- 

liiigh Talat Iialman 

Khilafat Movement 
Gail Minault 

Margaret Malatmid 

Khiva, Khanate of 
Touraj Atabaki 

Kho'i, Abo 'I Qasem 

Alajid Mohammaili 

Azim Nanji 

Khomeini, Ruhollah 
Nancy L. Stockilale 

Patrick D. Gaffney 

Kindi, al- 
Jon McGinnis 

Parviz Morewedge 


Majid Mohammaili 

Kunti, Mukhtar al- 
Khalil Athamina 

Farid el Khazen 

Charles Kurzman 

Liberation Movement of Iran 

Marwa, Muhammad 

Claudia Stodte 

Paula Stiles 



John Walbridge 

Rizwi Faizer 

Madani, c Abbasi 


Claudia Gazzini 

Marcia Hermansen 



Brannon M. Wheeler 




John Walbridge 

Patrick D. Gaffney 



Richard C. Martin 

Marcia Hermansen 

Material Culture 

Mahdi, Sadiq al- 

Hassan Mwaki m a ki i 

John O. Voll 

Maturidi, al- 

Mahdist State, Mahdiyya 

M. Sait Ozervarli 


Maududi, Abu l-A'la' 


Jamal Malik 

Ziba Mir-Hosseini 



Osman Tastan 

Said Amir Arjomand 


Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir 

Randall L. Pouwels 

Rula Jurdi Abisaab 


Makassar, Shaykh Yusuf 

Gail G. Harrison 

R. Michael Feener 

Osman M. Galal 

Malcolm X 


Edward E. Curtis IV 

Muhammad Qasim Zaman 

Malik, Ibn Anas 


Jonathan E. Brockopp 

Sheila S. Blair 

Jonathan M. Bloom 

Ma'mun, al- 

Muhammad Qasim Zaman 

Military Raid 

Rizwi Faizer 

Manar, Manara 
Sheila S. Blair 
Jonathan M. Bloom 

Minbar (Mimbar) 
Richard T. Antoun 

Minorities: Dhimmis 


Patrick Franke 

Elton L. Daniel 

Minorities: Offshoots of Islam 

Mansa Musa 

Robert Gleave 

Ousmane Kane 


Marja' al-Taqlid 

Marcia Iiermansei) 

Robert Gleave 



Frederick Colby 

Ziba Mir-Hosseini 

Michael Sells 



Daniel W. Brown 

Charles Kurzman 

islam and the Muslim World 

Javed Majeed 

Modernization, Political: Administra- 
tive, Military, and Judicial Reform 
Aslam Farouk-Alli 

Modernization, Political: Authoritari- 
anism and Democratization 

Claudia Stodte 

Anne-Sophie Froehlich 

Modernization, Political: 
Sohail H. Hashmi 

Modernization, Political: 
Participation, Political Movements, 
and Parties 
Quintan Wiktorowicz 

Modern Thought 
Charles Kurzman 

Mojahedin-e Khalq 
Juan Eduardo Campo 

Mojtahed-Shabestari, Mohammad 
Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi 


Kamran Aghaie 

Mansur Sefatgol 


Said Amir Arjomanil 

Peter B. Clarke 

Mosaddeq, Mohammad 
Fakhreddin Azimi 

Motahhari, Mortaza 
Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi 

Mu c awiya 
Suleman Dangor 

Muneer Goolam Fareed 

Rizwi Faizer 

Muhammad Ahmad Ibn 'Abdullah 

Alohamed Mahmond 

Muhammad c Ali, Dynasty of 
Joel Gordon 

Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya 
Liyakatali Takim 

Muhammad, Elijah 
Edward E. Curtis IV 

Muhammadiyya (Muhammadiyah) 
Robert W. Hefner 

Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi 
Stephanie Cronin 

Muhammad, Warith Deen 
!:'.(!« ard E. Curtis IV 

David Pinault 

Muhasibi, al- 
Rkia E. Cornell 

Robert Gleave 

Amin Tarzi 

Mulla Sadra 
Served llossein Nasi' 

MurjPites, Murji'a 

Shalahuilin Kalraw i 

Munir Beken 

Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj 
Asma Afsaruddin 

Muslim Student Association of 
North America 
Aminah Beverly McCloud 

Mu'tazilites, Mu'tazila 

Shalahuilin Kafrawi 

Nader Shah Afshar 
John R. Perry 

Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) 
Nelly van Doorn-Harder 

Na'ini, Mohammad Hosayn 
Mohammad H. Faghfoory 

Mazyar Lotfalian 

Juan Eduardo Campo 

Asma Afsaruddin 

Nationalism: Arab 
Nancy L. Stockilale 

Nationalism: Iranian 
Fakhreddin Azimi 

Nationalism: Turkish 
A. Uner Turgay 

Nation of Islam 
Aminah Beverly McCloud 

Anne H. Beueritlge 

M. Sait Ozervarli 

Networks, Muslim 
Bruce B. Lawrence 
Miriam Cooke 

Ziba Mir-Hosseini 

Niyabat-e 'arnma 
Robert Gleave 

Nizam al-Mulk 
Warren C. Schultz 

Nur Movement 
Berna Turam 

Nuri, Fazlallah 
Mohammad H. Faghfoory 

Nursi, Said 
A. Uner Turgay 

Organization of the Islamic 
Qamar-ul Huda 

Qamar-ul Huda 

Pakistan, Islamic Republic of 
Rasul Bakhsh Rais 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

Touraj Atabaki 

Majid Mohammadi 

Persian Language and Literature 
Franklin D. Lewis 

Pilgrimage: Hajj 



Kathryn Kueny 

Muhammad Qasim Zaman 

Andrew J. Newman 

Pilgrimage: Ziyara 


Sadr, Muhammad Baqir al- 

Richard C. Martin 

Kamran Aghaie 

Majid Mohammadi 

Pluralism: Legal and Ethno-Religious 

Refah Partisi 

Sadr, Musa al- 

Irene Schneider 

Linda T. Darling 

Majid Mohammadi 

Pluralism: Political 

Reform: Arab Middle East and 


Gudrun Kramer 

North Africa 
Sohail H. Hashmi 

F. Ghislaine Lydon 

Political Islam 


Gudrun Kramer 

Reform: Iran 
Hossein Kamaly 

Arthur F. Buehler 

Political Organization 


Linda T. Darling 

Reform: Muslim Communities of the 
Russian Empire 

Warren C. Schultz 

Political Thought 

Allen J. Frank 


Louise Marlow 

Reform: South Asia 

John O. Voll 


Ahrar Ahmad 

Saleh bin Allawi 

Ziba Mir-Hosseini 

Reform: Southeast Asia 

Abdin Chande 


Mark R. Woodward 

Saudi Dynasty 

Timur Kuran 

Religious Beliefs 

F. Gregory Gause III 


R. Kevin Jaques 


Brannon M. Wheeler 

Religious Institutions 

Robert Gleave 


Abdulkader Tayob 

Science, Islam and 


Republican Brothers 

Aaron Hughes 

Qadhdhafi, Mu'ammar al- 

John O. Voll 

Secularism, Islamic 

Ali Abdullatif Ahmida 

Revolution: Classical Islam 

Charles Kurzman 

Qadi (Kadi, Kazi) 

Said Amir Axjomand 


Ebrahim Moosa 

Revolution: Islamic 

Mahmood Monshipouri 

Qa c ida, al- 

Revolution in Iran 

Shafi'i, al- 

Richard C. Martin 

Kristian Alexander 

Christopher Melchert 


Revolution: Modern 

Shaltut, Mahmud 

Khaled Abou El-Fadl 

Said .Amir Arjomand 

Sohail H. Hashmi 


Reza Shah 


Gerard Wiegers 

Stephanie Cronin 

Jonathan E. Brockopp 

Farid Esack 

Qutb, Sayyid 
Sohail H. Hashmi 

Rabi'a of Basra 
Rkia E. Cornell 

Rahman, Fazlur 
Marcia Hermansen 

Rashid, Harun al- 
Sebastian Gunther 

Timur Kuran 

Rida, Rashid 
Sohail H. Hashmi 

Gerard Wiegers 

Rumi, Jalaluddin 
Franklin D. Lewis 

Rushdie, Salman 
Amir Hussain 

Sadat, Anwar al- 
Joel Gordon 

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi 

Robert Gleave 

Shar'it Shangalaji, Reza-Qoli 
Paula Stiles 

Shaykh al-lslam 
Robert Gleave 


Paula Stiles 

Shi'a: Early 
DevinJ. Stewart 

islam and the Muslim World 

Shi'a: Imami (Twelver) 

Suyuti, al- 

David Pinault 

E. M. Sartain 

Shi c a: Isma'ili 

Tabari, al- 

Farhad Daftary 

Christopher Melchert 

Shi'a: Zaydi (Fiver) 

Tablighi Jama'at 

Robert Gleave 

Barbara D. Alelcalf 



R. Kevin Jaques 

Kathryn Kueny 

Siba'i, Mustafa al- 

Tahmasp 1, Shah 

Patila Stiles 

Sholeh A. Quinn 



Arthur F. Buehler 

John O. Voll 

Sirhindi, Shaykh Ahmad 


Arthur F. Buehler 

Amin Tarzi 


Kimberly McCloud 

F. Gregory Gause III 


South Asia, Islam in 

Linda T. Darling 

Scott A. Kugle 


South Asian Culture and Islam 

Robert Gleave 

Perween Hasan 


Southeast Asia, Islam in 

Robert Gleave 

Nelly van Doorn-Harder 


Southeast Asian Culture and Islam 

Carl W. Ernst 

Nelly van Doorn-Harder 



Carl W. Ernst 

Mark Wegner 


Suhrawardi, al- 

Kamran Aghaie 

John Walbridge 



Juan Eduardo Campo 

Rizwi Faizer 

Caleb Elfenbein 

Sultanates: Ayyubid 

Thaqafi, Mukhtar al- 

Carole Hillenbrand 

Christopher Melchert 

Sultanates: Delhi 


Iqtidar Alam Khan 

Ousmane Kane 

Sultanates: Ghaznavid 


Walid A. Saleh 

Lucy Creevey 

Sultanates: Mamluk 


Warren C. Schultz 

R. Kevin Jaques 

Sultanates: Modern 


Hassan Alwakimako 

Lamin Sanneh 

Sultanates: Seljuk 

Travel and Travelers 

Said Amir Arjomand 

Thyge C. Bro 



Daniel W. Brown 

Amal Rassam 

Turabi, Hasan al- 
John O. Voll 

Tusi, Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan 
(Shaykh al-Ta c ifa) 
Robert Gleave 

Tusi, Nasir al-Din 
Zayn R. Kassam 

Robert Gleave 

Khalid Yahya Blankinship 

Umm Kulthum 

Virginia Danielson 

United States, Islam in the 
Edward E. Curtis IV 

Urdu Language, Literature, 
and Poetry 
Christopher Shackle 

Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi 

'Uthman Dan Fodio 
Roman Loimeier 

'Uthman ibn 'Affan 
Rizwi Faizer 

Ghazala Anwar 
Liz McKay 

Velayat-e Faqih 
Robert Gleave 

Vernacular Islam 
Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger 

Wahdat al-Wujud 
William C. Chittick 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

Wajib al-Wujud 
Shams C. Inati 

Wali Allah, Shah 
Alarcia J lermansen 

Gregory C. Kozlowski 

Mansur Sefatgol 

Wazir Young Ottomans Zand, Karim Khan 

Richard C. Martin Murat C. Mengiic John R. Perry 

West, Concept of in Islam Young Turks Zanzibar, Sa c idi Sultanate of 

John O. Voll Murat C. Mengiic Abdin Chande 

Women, Public Roles of Youth Movements Zar 

Etin Anwar Ali Akbar Mahdi Adeline Masquelier 

Yahya bin 'Abdallah Ramiya Yusuf Ali, 'Abdullah Zaytuna 

Hassan Mwakimako Abdulkader Tayob Claudia ( . a zzi 1 1 i 

List of Contributors 

Rula Jurdi Abisaab 

Kristian Alexander 

Khalil Athamina 

University at Akron, OH 

University of Utah 

Birzeit Univeristy, Palestine 

Karaki, Shaykh c Ali 

Revolution: Islamic Revolution in Iran 

Kunti, Mukhtar al- 

Mi/// is/, Mi/hmnmad Baqir 

Richard T. Antoun 

Fakhreddin Azimi 

Khaled Abou El-Fadl 

State University of New York, 

University of Connecticut 

University of California, Los Ange- 


Feda'iyan-e Islam 

les, Law School 

Minbar (Mimbar) 

Mosaddeq, Me 

c Abd al-Razzaq al-Sanhuri 

Ghazala Anwar 

iism: Iranian 


University of Canterbury, New 

Ihsan Bagby 

Asma Afsaruddin 

University of Kentucky 

University of Notre Dame, South 

American Culture and Islam 

Bend, IN 

Bukhari, al- 

Etin Anwar 

Henning L. Bauer 

Hamilton College, NY 

University of California, Los Ange- 
les, NELC 

Nasa'i, al- 

Women, Public Roles of 

Empires: Sassaman 

Kamran Aghaie 

Said Amir Arjomand 

Munir Beken 

University of Texas, Austin 

State University of New York, 

University of Washington 

Stony Brook 




Jonathan Berkey 

Ta'ziya (Ta'ziye) 

Davidson College 

Ahrar Ahmad 

Revolution: Classical Islam 


Black Hills State University, SD 
Reform: South Asia 

Revolution: Modern 
Sultanates: Seljuk 

Carel Bertram 
University of Texas, Austin 

Jacqueline M. Armijo 

Ali Abdullatif Ahmida 

1 University 

University of New England 

East Asia, Islam in 

Anne H. Betteridge 

Qadhdhafi, Mu'ammaral- 

East Asian Culture and Islam 

University of Arizona 

Iqtidar Alam Khan 

Touraj Atabaki 


Aligarh Historians Society, Aligarh 

University of Utrecht, The 



Anna Bigelow 

Empires: Mogi/l 

Khiva, Khanate of 

Loyola Marymount University 

Sultanates: Delhi 


Hinduism and Islam 

Sheila S. Blair 

Richard C. Campany, Jr. 

Stephen Cory 

Boston College 

Senior Analyst, Harris Corporation 

University of California, Santa 


Cor/runt 'is/ > 


i Humph) 

Ahl al Kitab 

Dome of the Rock 

Sandra S. Campbell 

Manar, Manara 

Santa Barbara, CA 

Lucy Creevey 

Mih nib 


University of Connecticut, 

Khalid Yahya Blankinship 

Juan Eduardo Campo 

Bamba, Ahmad 

Temple University, PA 

University of California, Santa 

Ahlal Bayt 


Hospitality in id Islam 

Stephanie Cronin 

. [rah League 

University College, Northampton, 

Jonathan Bloom 



Boston College 

Hinduism and Islam 

\L ' , n in R - ' i 'I'm i 


Reza Shah 

Dome of the Rock 
Manar, Manara 

Mojahedin-e Khalq 

Edward E. Curtis IV 


University of North Carolina, 

\ lib nib 


Chapel Hill 

il Im Imam 

Gert Borg 

University of Nijmegen, The 

Abdin Chande 

Malcolm X 

Sidwell Friends School, Washing- 
ton, D.C. 

Muhammad, Elijah 


Muhammad, Warith Deen 

Arabic Literature 

African Culture and Islam 
Ilaj ' Umar al-Tal, al- 

United States, Islam, in the 

Thyge C. Bro 

Saleh hi, /' / ( im ! ul L d) 

Farhad Daftary 


Zanzibar, Sa'idi Sultanate of 

Institute of Ismaili Studies, London 

Ibn Battiita 

. Issassius 

William C. Chittick 

Shi' a: Isma'ili 

Travel and Travelers 

Stale I niversity of New York, 

Stony Brook 

Ahmad S. Dallal 

Jonathan E. Brockopp 

Ibn \ irabi 

Stanford University 

Bard College, Annandale, NY 

Wahdat al-Wujud 

. Istrolo'jy 

Malik, Ibn Anas 

Peter B. Clarke 

. Istrmiomy 


King's College, University of 

Ili/ri Calendar 

Patrice C. Brodeur 



Suleman Dangor 

Connecticut College 

University of Durban, South Africa 

Christian in and Islam 


Islam and Oth t r R in 

Frederick Colby 

Elton L. Daniel 

Daniel W. Brown 

Duke University 

Mi' raj 

University of Hawaii 

Mount Holyoke College, MA 



Nora Ann Colton 


Drew University 

Virginia Danielson 

Economy and Economic Institutions 

Harvard University 

Arthur F. Buehler 

Umm Kulthum 

Louisiana Stale Univeristy, Baton 

Miriam Cooke 


Duke University 

Linda T. Darling 



University of Arizona 


Erbakan, Xecmeddiu 

Sirhii/di. Shark!.} i Ibmad 

Rkia E. Cornell 

Jevdet Pasha 

University of Arkansas 

Kemal, Ntiniek 

Paul D. Buell 

Basri, Hasan al- 

P " / 

Western Washington University 

Muhasibi, al- 

Refah Partisi 

Empires: Timurid 

Rabi c a of Basra 


Rochelle Davis 

Rizwi Faizer 

Osman M. Galal 

Stanford Universirj 

Independent Scholar, Canada 

University of California, Los Ange- 


Abu Bakr 

les, School of Public Health 

Devin DeWeese 
Indiana University 

Central Asia, Islam in 

Military Raid 


Patrick Franke 

Central . Is/an Culture and Islam 

Sylviane Anna Diouf 
New York University 

Americas, islam in the 



Uthman ibn 'Affan 

Muneer Goolam Fareed 


Patrick D. Gaffney 
University of Notre Dame 

Kb ulha 
Mi si id 

Fred M. Donner 

Wayne State University, MI 

. Idhan 

University of Chicago 

Dietary Lares 

Gene Garthwaite 



Aslam Farouk-Alli 

Dartmouth College 

Nadia Maria El Cheikh 


American University of Beirut, 

Empires: Byzantine 

F. Gregory Gause III 
University of Vermont, Burlington 
Ba c th Party 
Saudi Dynasty 


Claudia Gazzini 

Caleb Elfebein 

University of California, Santa 


University of Cape Town, South 

Holy Cities 

Modernization, Political: Administra 

Princeton University 

Farid el Khazen 

\ lit / , and In Hciai l\ lot / 

! _ Ibd al llamid Ibn Badis 

American University of Beirut, 


R. Michael Feener 
University of California, Riverside 

Makassar. Shaykh Yusuf 

Madani, Abbasi 


Abdullahi Osman El-Tom 

National Universirj of Ireland 

Leonor Fernandes 
American University in Cairo, 

Najib Ghadbian 
University of Arkansas 

Haggai Erlich 

Khanqa (Khanaqa, Khanga) 

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi 

Tel Aviv University, Israel 


Michael M. J. Fischer 
Massachusetts Institute of 

Georgia State University 

, ibd til Karim Sorush 
1 (i \lol t ' 

Carl W. Ernst 

Motahhari, Morttiz.ii 

Universirj of North Carolina, 
Chapel Hill 


Farid Esack 

Unsay u 

Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger 
Emory University 
Vernacular Islam 

Shari'ati, AH 

Robert Gleave 

University of Bristol, England 

- Ikhhariyya 

. lyatollah (1- lr. Ayatullah) 

Union Theological Seminary, NY 


Mohammad H. Faghfoory 

Allen J. Frank 
Independent Scholar 

Reform: Muslim Communities of the 
Russian Empire 

HUH, 'Mama al- 
Hilli, Muhaqqiq al- 

Mary Washington College, 

Hojjat al-Islam 

Fredricksburg, VA 

Anne-Sophie Froehlich 


Aim '/ Qasem Kashani 

Der Spiegel, Germany 

Marja c al-Taqlid 

X <i' ini, Mohammad Hosayn 

Modernization, Political: Authoritari- 

Minorities: Offshoots of Islam 

Nuri, Fazlallah 

anism and Democratization 


Niyabat-e 'amma 



Shaykh al-Islam 

Shi'a: Zaydi (Fiver) 


Tn \ In bin <d II 1 Hum n 
(Shaykh al-Ta'ifa) 

i 'lam; 
Velayat-e Faqih 

Matthew Gordon 
Miami University, Ohio 
Empires: Abbasid 

Joel Gordon 
University of Arkansas 
c Abd al-Hamid Kishk (Shaykh) 

'Abd til Xasser, Jama/ 
Muhammad c Ali, Dynasty of 
Sadat, Anwar al- 

Sebastian Giinther 
University of Toronto, Canada 
Rashid, Harun al- 

Ursula Giinther 
University of Hamburg, Germany 

Ghazali, Zaynab al- 
Human Rights 

Hugh Talat Halman 
University of Arkansas 
Khidr, al- 

Gail G. Harrison 
University of California, Los Ange- 
les, School of Public Health 


Perween Hasan 
Dhaka University, Bangladesh 

South . hi, in Culture and Islam 

Sohail H. Hashmi 
Mount Holyoke College, MA 

'. ibd ai Rahman Kawakibi 

'Abd nl IVahhab, Muhammad Ibu 

'Abduh, Muhammad 

. Ifgbani, Jama/ a! Din 

Banna, Hasan al- 



Hiisayn, Tabu 


Modernization, Political: 

Pan Islam 
Reform: Arab Middle East and North 

Rida, Rashid 
Shaltut, Mahmud 
Ontb, Sin yid 
II 'abhabiyya 

Mona Hassan 
Princeton University 

Jane Hathaway 
Ohio State Univei 


Christer Hedin 
Stockholm Univer 

Robert W. Hefner 
Boston University 

W diyya (M/i > liyah) 

Marcia Hermansen 
Loyola University, Chicago 
Biography and Hagiography 

Pirn ;ii. ai ■ 





Rahman, Fazlur 

Wall Allah, Shah 

Annie C. Higgins 
University of Chicago 

Khari/ites, Khtrccarij 

Carole Hillenbrand 
University of Edinburgh, Scotland 
Sultanates: Ayyubid 

Konrad Hirschler 
University of London, England 
Historical Writing 

Qamar-ul Huda 
Boston College 
Ghazali, Muhammad al 
Organization of the Islamic 


Aaron Hughes 
University of Calgary, Canada 
Andalus, al- 
. Isabiyya 
Science, Islam and 

Amir Hussain 
California State University, 

Rushdie, Salman 

Shams C. Inati 
Villanova University, Pennsylva: 

//'// Sinn 
Wajib al-Wujud 

Torsten Janson 
Lund University, Sweden 

Rasool Ja'fariyan 
Independent Scholar' 

R. Kevin Jaques 
Indiana University, Bloomington 

lb// Kha/duu 

Islamicate Society 

! i iety a I ill 

Religious Beliefs 



Shamil Jeppie 
University of Cape Town, South 

Haron, Abdullah 
Mahdist State, Mahdiyya 

Charlotte Jirousek 
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 


David L. Johnston 
Yale University 
Fasi, Muhammad Allal al- 

Ikbd'tin al Mi i dim in 
Islamic Sa/catiou Front 

Shalahudin Kafrawi 
Binghamton University, NY 
Murji'ites, Murji'a 

Mu'tazilites, Mu'tazila 

Hossein Kamaly 
Columbia University 
Reform: Iran 

Ousmane Kane 
Columbia University 
Askiya Muhammad 
Mansa Musa 


Nico J. C. Kaptein 
Leiden University, The 


Zayn R. Kassam 
Pomona College, CA 


Tusi, Nasir al-Din 

Santhi Kavuri-Bauer 
San Francisco State University 

Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi 
International Institute of Islamic 
Thought and Civilization, 


John Kelsay 
Florida State University, 

Dar al-llarb 
Dar al-hlam 

Gregory C. Kozlowski 
DePaul University, Chicago 
. Ikbar 


Gudrun Kramer 
Free University of Berlin, Germany 

(ihanuoushi, Raskid al 

Fltikirma ul hlamiyya. til (Islamic 

Pluralism: Political 
Political Islam 

Kathryn Kueny 
Lawrence University, KY 

Taj sir 

Scott A. Kugle 
Swarthmore College, PA 
South Asia, Islam in 

Timur Kuran 

Akbar Mahdi 

University of Southern California, 

Ohio Wesleyan University 

Los Angeles 

Youth Movements 



Mohamed Mahmoud 


Tufts University, MA 

Muhammad . ihmad Ibn . Ibdullah 

Charles Kurzman 

University of North Carolina, 

Javed Majeed 

Chapel Hill 

English Scholar 




Modern Thought 

Margaret Malamud 

Secularism, Islamic 

New Mexico State University, Las 


John C. Lamoreaux 


Southern Methodist University, 


Jamal Malik 


University of Erfurt, Germany 

Bruce B. Lawrence 


Duke University 

Jama'at-e Islami 


Jam'iyat-e 'Ulama-e Hind 

Networks, Muslim 

Jam c iyat-e 'Ultima e Flam 

Jam'iyat-e 'Ulama-e Pakistan 

Oliver Leaman 

Ma ud ud i, Abu I Ada' 

University of Kentucky 

Greek Civilization 

Louise Marlow 

Ib/i Rushd 

Wellesley College, MA 

Political Thought 

David Lelyveld 

William Palerson University, 

Richard C. Martin 

Wayne, NJ 

Emory University 

. Ihmad Khan, (Sir) Sayyid 

bin Ladin, Usama 

, lligarh 

I 'i , ' itii), 

Iqbal, Muhammad 


Franklin D. Lewis 

Pilgrimage: Ziyara 

Emory University 

Persian Language and Literature 

Qa'ida, al- 
ii azir 

Rumi, Jalaluddin 

Herbert W. Mason 

Roman Loimeier 

Boston University 

University of Bayreuth, Germany 

Hallaj, al- 

Abu Bakr Gumi 

Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi 

Adeline Masquelier 

'Uthman Dan Fodio 

Tulane University, LA 


Mazyar Lotfalian 


Philip Mattar 

+ Ibu 7 Hasan Bani-Sadr 

U.S. Institute of Peace, Washing- 

Bazargan, Mehdi 

ton D.C. 

Fadlallah, Muhammad llnsayn 

1 / i llajj Am 


I mi (a da 

F. Ghislaine Lydon 

Rudi Matthee 

University of California, Los 

University of Delaware 


'Abbas I, Shah 


Empires: Safavid and Qajar 

William McCants 
Princeton University 

Bab, Sayyed Ali Muhammad 

Aminah Beverly McCloud 
DePaul University, Chicago 
Farrakhan, Louis 

Minimi Student Association ofSorth 

Nation of Islam 

Kimberly McCloud 
Monterey Institute for Interna- 
tional Studies, CA 


Jon McGinnis 
University of Missouri, St. Louis 

Kindi, a/ ■ 

Liz McKay 
University of Canterbury, New 

I 'eiliug 

Christopher Melchert 

University of ( )xford, England 

Shaft i. al 

Tabari, til 

Thaqaf I ' btar at 

Charles Melville 

Pembroke (College, (Cambridge 

I uneisity, England 
Emj a [ I ind L Ki in ,1 

Murat C. Mengiic 
McGill University, Canada 
Young Ottomans 

! 'nung Turks 

Barbara D. Metcalf 
I University of (California, Davis 
Ahl-e Hadis /AM al-Hadith 


Khan, Rez/i of Rurally 


Gail Minault 
University of Texas, Austin 

Khilafat Movement 


Ziba Mir-Hosseini 

School of Oriental and African 
Studies, University of Londor 


Nihth ' 

Majid Mohammadi 
State University of New York, 
Stony Brook 

i , i i a ' II 

Hojjatiyya Society 

Khaiiiaue'i, Sayyed Ali 

Kho'i, Abo T Qasem 



Sadr, Muhammad Baqir al- 

Sadr, Musa al- 

Mahmood Monshipouri 
Quinnipiac University, CN 


Ebrahim Moosa 
Duke University 

Ethics and Social Issues 
Chaza/i. al 
Qadi (Kadi, Kazi) 

Parviz Morewedge 
Rutgers University, New 

Brunswick, NJ 

Harald Motzki 

University of Nijmegen, The 


Hassan Mwakimako 

University of Nairobi, Kenya 

Material Culture 

Sultanates: Modern 

Yahya bin \ Ibdallah Ramiya (Shaykh) 

Azim Nanji 
Institute of Ismaili Studies, Lon- 
don, U.K. 

. Iga Khan 

Ikhvian al-Safa 

Seyyed Hossein Nasr 
George Washington University 
Ishraqi School 

Ma II a Sadr a 

Gordon D. Newby 
Emory University 
Arabia, Pre-Islam 
Judaism and Islam 

Andrew J. Newman 
University of Edinburgh, Scotland 

Jorgen S. Nielsen 
University of Birmingham, 

Europe, Islam in 

European Culture and Islam 

A. Rashied Omar 
Notre Dame, IN 
Conflict and Violence 

Irfan A. Omar 
Marquette University, 
Milwaukee, WI 


M. Sait Ozervarli 
Center for Islamic Studies, Istan- 
bul, Turkey 
c Abd al-Jabbar 
Abu 'l-Hudhayl al- c Allaf 
Ash'arites, Ash'aira 
Baqillani, al- 
Maturidi, al- 
Xnzzniu, al 

James Pavlin 
Rutgers University, New 
Brunswick, NJ 

Urn Taymiyya 

John R. Perry 
University of Chicago 
Nader Shah Afshar 
Zand, Karim Khan 

Daniel C. Peterson 
Brigham Young University, UT 


Identity, Muslim 

David Pinault 
Santa Clara University, CA 


Shi a: I in ami (Twelver) 

Karen C. Pinto 

Lamin Sanneh 

Tamara Sonn 

University of Alberta, Canada 

Yale University Divinity School 

The College of William and Mary, 

Cartography and Geography 


Williamsburg, VA 

Randall L. Pouwels 

E. M. Sartain 

Hizb Allah 

University of Arkansas 

American University in Cairo, 

Mazru i 


Susan A. Spectorsky 

Avril A. Powell 

Suyuti, al- 

City University of New York 

School of Oriental and African 

Irene Schneider 

University ofllalle, Germany 

It'll llanbal 

Studies, University of London, 


Diana Steigerwald 

Pluralism: Legal and Ethuo Religions 

California State University, Long 

Ahmad, Mirza Ghiihrin 


Warren C. Schultz 


Donald Quataert 

DePaul University, Chicago 

. Izhttr. al 

Binghamton University, NY 



Empires: Ottoman 

Nizam al-Mulk 


Devin J. Stewart 

Sholeh A. Quinn 

Sultanates: Maniluk 

Emory University 

Ohio University 

Shi' a: Early 

Isma'il 1, Shah 

Florian Schwarz 

Tahmasp I, Shah 

Ruhr University Bochum, Germany 

Paula Stiles 

Rasul Bakhsh Rais 

Bukhara. Khanate and Emirate of 

University of St. Andrews, Scotland 

Quaid-i Azam University, Pakistan 

Michael Sells 
Haverford College, PA 
Mi'raj Muhammad 

Jinnah, Muhammad All 
Pakistan, Islamic Republic of 

Shar'/t Shangalaji, Reza-Qoli 


Siba'i, Mustafa al- 

Amal Rassam 

Queens College, City University of 

Mansur Sefatgol 

Nancy L Stockdale 

New York 

University of Tehran, Iran 

University of Central Florida 



// i. Islam R , In ii 


Khomeini, Ruhollah 

David Robinson 

Christopher Shackle 

Nationalism: Arab 

Michigan State University 

School of Oriental and African 

Claudia Stodte 

Africa, Islam in 

Studies, University of London, 

Urdu Language. Literatim, and 

Dei: Spiegel, Germany 

Everett K. Rowson 

Liberation Movement of Iran 

New York University 

Modernization, Political: Authoritari 


Sa'diyya Shaikh 

anism and Democratization 

Uri Rubin 

Temple University, PA 

Liyakatali Takim 

Tel Aviv University, Israel 


Independent Scholar 

. Isiiam 

J a' far al-Sadiq 

John Ruedy 
Georgetown University 

William Shepard 

( mad a ' i i 

University of Canterbury, 
Christchurch, New Zealand 

Amin Tarzi 

Bourghiba, Habib 

Khalid, Khalid Muhammad 

Monterey Institute of International 

Abdullah Saeed 

Studies, CA 

University of Melbourne, Australia 

Reeva Spector Simon 



Columbia University 


L HI ill a 


Osman Tastan 

Walid A. Saleh 

Tahir Fuzile Sitoto 

Ankara University, Turkey 

University of Toronto, Canada 

University of Natal, South Africa 


Sultanates: Ghazuavid 




University of Nijmenen, The 

I Li/j Salim Suwari, al- 
Religious Institutions 
YusufAli, Abdullah 

Alfons H. Teipen 
Furman University, SC 
Empires: Umayyad 

Frances Trix 
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 

Balkans, hliim in the 

Berna Turam 

McGill University, Canada 
Nur Movement 

A. UnerTurgay 
McGill University, Canada 
Ataturk, M iisti 1 1 I nal 
Gasprinskii, Isma'il Bay 

Xatiouti/is///: Turkish 
Xursi, Said 

Sufia Uddin 
University of Vermont, Burlington 
Awami League 

Nelly van Doom-Harder 
Valparaiso University, IN 
Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) 
So uthe ii st Asia, Islam in 
Southeast Asian Culture and Islam 

Kees Versteegh 
University of Nijmegen, The 

Arabic Language 
Grammar mid Lexicography 

Knut S. Vik0r 

University ;il Bergen, Norway 
Ahmad Ibn Idris 

John O. Voll 
Georgetown University 
Islam and Islamic 
Mahdi, Sadiq al- 
Republican Brothers 

Turabi, Hasan al- 
West, Concept of in Islam 

Peter von Sivers 
University of Utah 

\ Ibd ai Qadir, . imir 

John Walbridge 

Indiana University, Bloomingtoi 

Baku' a Hah 

Baha'i Faith 



Suhrawardi, al- 

Elizabeth Warnock Fernea 
University of Texas, Austin 

Earle Waugh 
University of Alberta, Canada 

Mark Wegner 
Tulane University, LA 


David Westerlund 
Uppsala University, Sweden 

Brannon M. Wheeler 
University of Washington 

. Ibn Harsh! 

Bod)'. Significance of 



Gerard Wiegers 
Leiden University, The 

Devotional Life 

' Ibatlat 


Quintan Wiktorowicz 
Rhodes College, TN 

1 1 Pol 

P, I IlltioU, Polil 'I 1/ ('///< 1 

anil Parties 

Peter Lamborn Wilson 
Independent Scholar 

. 1 1/ gels 

Mark R. Woodward 
University of Arizona 
Reform: Southeast Asia 

Neguin Yavari 
Columbia University 

Muhammad Qasim Zaman 
Brown University 

Ma'mun, al- 



Synoptic Outline of Entries 

This outline provides a general overview of tin din of Islam 

and the Muslim World. The outli ries, which arc further' 

Tories. The entries are list) h category or 

subcategory. For ease of reference, the same entry may be listed under several categories. 

Biographies: Political and other 
Public Figures 

'Abbas I, Shah 
c Abd al-Qadir, Amir 
Abd al-Rahman Kawakibi 
c Abd al-Hamid Kishk (Shaykh) 
Abd al-Karim Sorush 
Abd al-Nasser, Jamal 
c Abd al-Razzaq al-Sanhuri 
Aim 1 Qasem Kashani 
Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi 
Ahmad Khan, (Sir) Sayyid 

Askiya Muni 

Ataturk, Mustafa Kemal 

Bourghiba, Habib 

Erbakan, Necmeddin 

Fasi, Muhammad Allal al- 

Gasprinskii, Isma'il Bay 

Isma'il I, Shah 

Jevdet Pasha 

Kemal, Namik 

Khalid, Khalid Muhammad 

Mahdi, Sadiq al- 

Mansa Musa 

Mosaddeq, Mohammad 
Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi 

ibn al-Hajjaj 
Nader Shah Afshar 
Nizam al-Mulk 
Nuri, Fazlallah 
Nursi, Said 
Qadhdhafi, Mu'ammar al- 

Rushdie, Salman 
Sadat, Anwar al- 

Saleh bin Allawi 

Sirhindi, Shaykh Ahmad 
Tahmasp I, Shah 
Uthman dan Fodio 
Wali Allah, Shah 
Yahya bin Abdallah Ramiya 
Zand, Karim Khan 

Biographies: Religious and Cultural 

c Abd al-Baha' 
'Abd al-Hamid Ibn Badis 
c Abd al-Jabbar 

Abd al-Wahhab, Muhammad Ibn 
Abduh, Muhammad 
Abu Bakr 
Abu Bakr Gumi 
Abu Hanifa 

Abu '1-Hasan Bani-Sadr 
Abu '1-Hudhayl al-Allaf 
Afghani, Jamal al-Din 

Ahmad, Mirza Ghulam 
Ahmad Gran 
Ahmad ibn Idris 

Bamba, Ahmad 
Banna, Hasan al- 
Baqillani, al- 

Basri, Hasan al- 
Bazargan, Mehdi 

Bukhari, al- 

Fadlallah, Muhammad Husayn 
Farrakhan, Louis 

Ghannoushi, Rashid al- 

Ghazali, al- 

Ghazali, Muhammad al- 

Hajj Salim Suwari, al- 
Haj 'Umar al-Tal, al- 
Hallaj, al- 
Haron, Abdullah 

Hashemi-Rafsanjani, Ali-Akbar 
Husayn, Taha 
Husayni, Hajj Amin al- 
Khidr, al- 

Shaykh 'Ali 
Hilli, 'Allama al- 
Hilli, Muhaqqiq al- 
Ibn 'Arabi 
Ibn Battuta 
Ibn Hanbal 
Ibn Khaldun 

Ibn Rushd 

Ibn Taymiyya 
Iqbal, Muhammad 
Ja'far al-Sadiq 
Jamil al-Amin, Imam 
Jinnah, Muhammad 'Ali 
Khamane'i, Sayyed c Ali 
Khan, Reza of Bareilly 
Kho'i, Abol Qasem 

Synoptic Outline of Entr 

Khomeini, Ruhollah 



Kindi, al- 



Kunti, Mukhtar al- 

Vernacular Islam 


Madani, 'Abbasi 


Malik, Ibn Anas 

Culture: Disciplines and Fields of 


Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir 



Malcolm X 



Nasa'i, al- 

i lospilality anil Islam 

Makassar, Shaykh Yusuf 


Human Rights 

Maturidi, al- 

Falsa fa 


Maududi, Abu 1-A'la 5 



Mojtahed Shabestari, Mohammad 


Motahhari, Mortaza 



Alu 'an iya 




i'asau v, ill 


Mnhammail, Elijah 

Science, Islam and 


Muhammad, Warith Deen 

Women, Public Roles of 

Muhammad Ahmad Ibn Abdullah 


3 Inhammail al Nais al Zakiyya 

Culture: Concepts 


Muhasibi, al- 

Geography: Regions 

Mulla Sadra 


Americas, Islam in the 

Na'ini, Mohammad Hosayn 
Nasa'i, al- 



Africa, Islam in 
Balkans, Islam in the 

Nazzam, al- 


Central Asia, Islam in 

Qutb, Sayyid 

East Asia, Islam in 

RabEa of Basra 

Europe, Islam in 

South Asia, Islam in 

Rahman, Fazlur 

Culture: Language and Literature 

Rashid, Haran al- 

Arabic Language 

Southeast Asia, Islam in 

Rida, Rashid 

Arabic Literature 

United States, Islam in the 

Rumi, Jalaluddin 

Biography and Hagiography 

West, Concept of 

Sadr, Muhammad Baqir al- 

Grammar and Lexicography 

Sadr, Musa al- 

Shafi'i, al 

Persian Language and Literature 


Geography: Countries, Cites and 

Shaltut, Mahmud 

Urdu Language, Literature, and 

Shari'ati, Ali 
Siba'i, Mustafa al- 

Vernacular Islam 

Arabia, Pre-Islam 


Bukhara, Khanate and Emirate of 

Suhrawardi, al- 


Culture: Regional 


Suynti, al 

African Culture and Islam 


Tabari, al- 

American Culture and Islam 

Thaqafi, Mukhtar al- 

Central Asian Culture and Islam 

Holy Cities 

Iran, Islamic Republic of 


Turabi, Hasan al- 

Easl Asian Culture and Islam 

Tusi, Mnhammail Ibn al Hasan 

European Culture and Islam 

(Shaykh al-Ta'ifa) 

Son ill Asian Culture and Islam 


Tusi, Nasir al-Din 

Southeast Asian Culture and Islam 




Umm Kulthum 

Culture: Other 

Pakistan, Islamic Republic of 

Uthman ibn 'Affan 



Yusuf Ali, 'Abdullah 



Identity, Muslim 


Culture: Arts, Architecture, and 

Humor in Islam 










Family, Ethics and Society 

Groups, Organizations, Schools, 



and Movements: Political 

Dome of the Rock 

Conflict and Violence 

Arab League 

Khanqah (Khanaqah, Khanga) 


Awami League 

Manar, Manara 


Ba'th Party 

Material Culture 

Ethics and Social Issues 


Synoptic Outline of Entr 


Coinage and Exchange 



Economy and Economic Institu- 





Nahdatul Ulama (NU) 


Organization of the Islamic 


Politics and Society 


Religious Institutions 

Military Raid 

Refah Partisi 


Minorities: Dhimmis 


Minorities: Offshoots of Islam 

Young Ottomans 

History: Periods, Dynasties, 


Young Turks 



Arabia, Pre-Islam 


Groups, Organizations, Schools, 



and Movements: Religious 

Bukhara, Khanate and Emirate of 

Pan Islam 




Ash'arites, Asha'ira 

Empires: Abbasid 



Empires: Byzantine 

Pluralism: Legal and Ethno- 


Empires: Mongol and Il-Khanid 



Empires: Mogul 

Pluralism: Political 

Feda'iyan-e Islam 

Empires: Ottoman 

Political Islam 


Empires: Safavid and Qajar 

Political Organization 

Hizb Allah 

Empires: Sassanian 

Political Thought 

Ikhwan al-Muslimin 

Empires: Timurid 


Ikhwan al-Safa 

Empires: Umayyad 

Reform: Arab Middle East and 

Islamic Jihad 


North Africa 

Islamic Society of North America 


Reform: Iran 


Hijri Calendar 

Reform: Muslim Communities of 

Muslim Student Association of 

Khiva, Khanate of 

the Russian Empire 

North America 

Mahdist State, Mahdiyya 

Reform: South Asia 



Reform: Southeast Asia 



Republican Brothers 


:\lora\ ids 

Revolution: Classical Islam 


A lull a in mad 'Ali, Dynasty of 

Revolution: Islamic Revolution in 





Sultanates: Delhi 

Revolution: Modern 

Wahhabiyya Chaznavid 

Saudi Dynasty 

Youth Movements A lam Ink 


Sultanates: Modern 


History: Concepts 

Sultanates: Seljuk 




Velayat-e Faqih 



History: Catalysts of Change 

Religion: Groups, Movements, and 

Historical Writing 



Hukuma al-Islamiyya, al- (Islamic 

Greek Civilization 

AM al-Bayt 



AM al-Hadith 


Liberation Movement of Iran 

AM al-Kitab 



Ahl-e Hadis / AM al-Hadith 





Networks, Muslim 

Balmy a 
Baha'i Faith 





History: Events 

Travel and Travelers 


Religious and Political 

I'u tu ww a 



Hojjatiyya Society 



Ishraqi School 



Islamic Salvation Front 



Jam'iyat-e 'Ulama-e Hind 


Jam'iyat-e 'Ulama-e Islam 

History: Institutions 

Mn lit as ib 

Jani'iyai e 'Ulama e 



Jama'at-e Islami 



Kharijites, Khawarij 

Khilalal Movemenl 


Ala (111 ha I) 


Alojahedin e Khalq 


A In ha mma d iyya (A luhammadiyah) 

Murji'ites, Murji'a 

Mu'tazilites, Mu'tazila 

Nation of Islam 

Nur Movement 
Qa'ida, al- 
Religious Beliefs 
Religious Institutions 
Shi'a: Early 
Shi'a: Imami (Twelver) 
Shi'a: Isma'ili 
Shi'a: Zaydi (Fiver) 


Religion: Ideas, Beliefs, Concepts, 
and Doctrines 




Bid c a 

Body, Significance of 


Dar al-Harb 

Dar al-Islam 





Lira mate 










Modern Thought 











Tasaww nf 
Ta'ziya (Ta'ziye) 
Wahdat al-Wujud 
Wajib al-Wujud 

Religion: Institutions 

Azhar, al- 



Khanqa (Khanaqa, Khanga) 



Religion: Places and Sites 


Dome of the Rock 

Hojjatiyya Society 

Holy Cities 



Jami c 






Religion: Practices and Rituals 




Devotional Life 


Dietary Laws 











Pilgrimage: Hajj 

Pilgrimage: Ziyara 


Religion: Relations with Non- 

Christianity and Islam 


Hinduism and Islam 
Islam and Other Religions 
Judaism and Islam 

Religion: Titles and Offices 

Ayatullah (Ar. Ayatullah) 
Hojjat al-Islam 

Islam and Islamic 

Islamicate Society 



Marja c al-Taqlid 



Qadi (Kadi, Kazi) 


Shaykh al-Islam 

List of Maps 

Maps accompli entries, and are located on the provi, 

Africa, Islam in 15 

Arabia, Pre Islam 52 

Balkans, Islam in \10l\ 

Balkans, Islam in 103 

Crusades 163 

Europe, Islam in 257 

Expansion 24~}. 

Ibn Battuta Volume one color insert 




Networks 509 

South Asia, Islam in '63$, 

Southeast Asia, Islam in 646 

S/i/i finales: Ayyubids 659 

C ABBAS I, SHAH (1571-1629) 

Empires: Safavid and Qajai 

Shah 'Abbas I, the fifth i tiled Iran 

from 1587 until 1629, the year of his death. Shah 'Abbas came 
to power at a time when tribal urn i invasion had 

greatly reduced Iran's territory. Once on the throne he set 
out to regain the lands and auth< ; en lost by his 

immediate successors. His defeat of the Uzbeks in the north- 
east and the peace he made with the Ottoman Empire, Iran's 
archenemy, enabled Shah 'Abbas to reform Iran's military 
and financial system. He diminis 1 power of the 

tribes by creating a standing army composed of slave soldiers 
who were loyal only to him. These so-called ghnlams (military 
slaves) were mostly Armenians and Georgians captured dur- 
ing raids in the Caucasus. In order to increase the revenue 
needed for these reforms the sha state control, 

trative positions. 

With the same intent he fostered trade by reestablishing 
road securit : many caravan series throughout 

the country. Under Shah 'Abbas, Isfahan became Iran's 
capital and most important city, endowed with a new com- 
mercial and administrative center grouped around a splendid 
square that survives today. His genius further manifested 
itself in his military skills and his astute foreign policy. He 
halted the eastward expansion of the Ottomans, defeating 
them and taking Baghdad in 1623. To encourage trade and 
thus gain treasure, he welcomed European merchants to the 
Persian Gulf. He also allowed Christian missionaries to settle 
in his country, hopeful that this might win him allies among 
European powers in his anti-Ottoman struggle. Famously 
down to earth, Shah 'Abbas was a pragmatic ruler who could 
be cruel as well as generous. Rare among Iranian kings, he is 
today remembered as a ruler who was concerned about his 

A detail from a miniature painting of 'Abb as 1 (1511-1629) 

appears hi the volume one color plates. 


Matthee, Rudolph P. The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk 
for Silver, 1600-1730. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Uni- 
versity Press, 1999. 

Savory, Roger. Iran under the Safavids. Cambridge, U.K.: 
Cambridge University Press, 1980. 

Rudi Matthee 

C ABD AL-BAHA 3 (1844-1921) 

'Abd al-Baha 5 'Abbas, also known as 'Abbas Effendi, was the 
son of Baha'allah (Mirza Husayn Ali, 1817-1892), the founder 
of the Baha'i religion. In his final will and testament, Baha'al- 

of his teachings. Born in Tehran on 2 3 May 1844, he grew up 
in the housel ommitted to the teachings of the 

Babi movement and consequently shared his father's fate of 
exile and inti isonment until the Young Turk 

revolution of 1909. 

As a result, 'Abd al-Baha 3 received little formal education 
and had to manage the affairs of his father's household at a 
very early age. Despite these setbacks, he demonstrated a 

human history and thought. 

'Abd al-Baha' corresponded with and enjoyed the respect 
of a number of the luminaries of his day, including the 
Russian author Leo Tolstoy and the Muslim reformer Mu- 
hammad Abduh. He left behind a small portion of what is a 
large corpus of still-unexplored writings that include social 
commentaries, interpretations, and elaborations of his fa- 
ther's works, mystical treatises, and Qur'anic and biblical 

Upon his release from house imprisonment in 1909, 'Abd 
al-Baha 3 traveled to North Africa, Europe, and North Amer- 
ica advocating a number of reforms for all countries, inclnd 
ing the adoption of a universal uxilian language, global 
collective security, mandatory education, and full legal and 
social equality for women and minorities. He also warned of a 
coming war in Europe and called for a just system of global 
government and international courts where disputes between 
nations could be resolved peacefully. 

Abd al-Baha ] died on 28 November 1921. According to 
his will and testament, his eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi 
Rabbani, became the head of the Baha'i community and the 
sole authorized interpreter of his grandfather and great- 
grandfather's teachings. 

See also Baha'allah; Baha'i Faith. 

William McCants 


Abd al-Hamid Ibn Badis was the leader of the Islamic 

reformist movement in Algeria and founder of the Association 
des Ulema Musi • cs Alge'rh ( ' ' MA). He was born in 
1889 in Constantine, where he also died in 1940. After 
receh ing a traditional education in his hometown, Ibn Badis 
(locally referred to as Ben Badis) studied at the Islamic 
University of Zaytuna, in Tunis, from 1908 to 1912. In the 
following years he journeyed through the Middle East, par 
ticularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where he came into 
contact with modernist and reformist currents of thought 
spreading u ithin orthodox Sunni Islam. 

Ibn Badis became the most prominent promoter of the 

Islamic reformist movement in Algeria, first through his 
preaching at the mosque of Sidi Lahdar in his hometown, 
and, after 1925, through his intensive journalistic activity. He 
found d a in papei U Mil i t d fire critic) \ In. li ( In ed 
after a few months. Immediately afterwards, however, he 
began a new and successful newspaper, Al-Shihab (The me- 
teor), which soon became the platform of the reformist 
thinking in Algeria, until its closure in 1939. Through the 
pages o(At ' Sbibnb, Ibn Badis spread the Salaiiyya movement 
in Algeria, presented his Qur'anic exegesis, and argued the 
need lot Islamic reform and a rebirth of religion and religious 
values within a society that, in his view, had been too influ- 
enced by French colonial rule. He further argued that the 
Algerian nation had to be founded on its Muslim culture and 
its Arab idem ii , ind lot tlii n i .>ii he is also considered a 
precursor of Algerian nationalism. He promoted the free 
teaching of Arabic language, which had been marginalized 
during the years of French rule, and the establishment of free 

schools for adults, where traditional Qur'anic studies could 

lie taught. 

In May 193 1 he founded the AUMA (also Association of 
Algerian Muslim Ulema), u Inch gathered the country's lead- 
ing Muslim thinkers, initially both reformist and conserva- 
tive, and subsequendy only reformist, and served as its president 
until his death. Whereas the reformist programs promoted 
through, // Shihub had managed to reach an audience limited 
to the elite educated class of the country, the AUMA became 
the tool for a nationwide campaign to revive Islam, Arabic, 
and religious studies, as well as a center for direct social and 
political action. Throughout the country he founded a net- 
work of Islamic cultural centers that provided the means for 
the educational initiatives he advocated and the establish- 
ment of Islamic youth groups I le also spearheaded a cam- 
paign against Sufi brotherhoods, accusing them ofintroducing 
blameworthy innovations to religious practice, and also of 
cooperating with the colonial administration. He played an 
important political role in the formation of the Algerian 
Muslim Congress in 1936, which arose in reaction to the 
victory of the Popular Front in France, and was active 
politically in the country until his premature death in 1940. 
Thanks to his activities as leader of the AUMA and to his 
writing in Al-Shihab, Ibn Badis is considered by some to be 
the most important figure of the Ai a i > I sla m i c cultural revival 
in Algeria during the 1930s. 

See also Reform: Arab Middle East and North Africa; 


Merad, AIL Le Reformisme Musulman en Algerie de 1925 a 
1940. Paris: Mouton, 1967. 

Safi, Hammadi. "Abdel Hamid Ben Badis entre les exigen- 
cies du dogme et la contrainte de la modernite." In 
Penseurs Maghrcbins Coiitciiiportiiiis. Casablanca: Editions 
EDDIF, 1993. 

Claudia Gazzini 


A pioneering "cassette preacher" of the 1970s, c Abd al- 
Hamid Kishk was born in the Egyptian Delta village of 
Shubrakhut, the son of a small merchant. Early on he experi- 

en< 1 i limpairnien lost hi in nn ely asayoung 

teen. He memorized the Qur'an by age twelve, attended 
religious schools in Alexandria and Cairo, then enrolled at al 
Azhar University. lie graduated in 1962, first in his class, but 
rather than an expected nomination to the teaching faculty, 
he was appointed imam at a Cairo mosque. 

Kishkran afoul of the Nasser regime in 1965. He claimed 
he was instructed to denounce Sayyid Qutb, refused, and 
subsequently was arrested and tortured in prison. In the early 
1970s, cassette recordings of his sermons and lessons began 
to proliferate throughout Egypt; by the late 1970s he was 
arguably the most popular preacher in the Arab world. 
Attendance at his mosque ,k) mi keted, reaching 100,000 for 
Friday sermons by the early 1980s. In September 1981 he was 
arrested as part of Anwar al-Sadat's crackdown on political 
opponents, and was in prison when Sadat was assassinated. 
Upon his release lie regained his following. He published his 
autobiography, The Story of My Days, in 1986. He died a 
decade later, in 1996. 


Jansen, Johanne \.C,.Tl ID The ( 

Assassins and hi, i " < the Middle t < \ 

York and London: Macmillan, 1986. 
>el ;ill i / i Exi ii 'i t and 

Pharaoh. Berkeley and Los Angeles: I 'Diversity of Califor- 
nia Press, 1993. 

lost bool a ' by Qhvam al 1 hn ' I ink lim 

and tilMtihit bi'I taklif by Ibn Mattawayh, are also available. 

See also Kalam; Mu'tazilites, Mu'tazila. 


Frank, Richard M. "The Autonomy of the Human Agent 

in the Teaching of 'Abd al-Gabbar." Le Museon 95 

(1982): 323-355. 
Heemskerk, M. T S//// / >i / U i It 

al-Jabbar's Teaching on Pain and Divine justice, Leiden: 

Brill, 2000. 
Hourani, George F hla ' i fhic s ofAbd al- 

Jabbar. Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1971. 
Peters, J. R. T. M. God's Created Speech: A Study in the 

Speculative Theology of the M/itaz.i/i Qadi l-Qudat Abul- 

llastin 'Abd al Jabbar bn Ahmad al I Lnnadani. Leiden: 

Brill, 1976. 

M. Sait Ozervarli 

Joel Gordon 

C ABD AL-JABBAR (935-1025) 

Abd al-Jabbar was a Alti'lazilile theologian and Shafi'ile 
jurist, known as Qadi 'Abd al-Jabbar b.Alim a J. al Ilamadani. 
He was born in Asadabad in Iran about 935, studied kalam 
w nil Abu Ishaq al "Awash in Basra, and associated with the 
prominent Mu'tazilite scholar Abu 'Abdullah al-Basri in 
Baghdad. Abd a I Jabbar was appointed as chief judge of Rayy 
with a great authority over other regions in northern Iran by 
the Buyid wazir Sahib b. 'Abbad in 977. Following his 
dismissal from the post after the death of Ibn 'Abbad, he 
devoted his life to teaching. In 999 he made a pilgrimage to 
Mecca through Baghdad, where he spent some time. He 
taught briefly in Kazvin ( 1 1 8- 1 1 9) and died in 1 02 5 in Ray. 

As the teacher of the well-known Mu'tazilites of the 
eleventh century, such as Abu Rashid al-Nisaburi, Ibn 
Mattawayh, Abu '1-Husayn al-Basri, and as the master of 
Mu'tazilism in its late period, 'Abd al jabbar elaborated and 
expanded the teachings of Bahshamiyya, the subgroup named 
after Abu Hashim al-Jubba'i. He synthesized some of the 
Mu'tazilite views with Sunni doctrine on the relation of 
reason and revelation, and came close to the Shi'ite position 
on the question of leadership (imama). He is also a significant 
source of information on ancient Iranian and i ither monothe- 
istic religions. 

'Abd al-Jabbar wrote many works on kalam, especially on 
the defense of the Qur'an, and on the Prophet of Islam. Some 
of his books, including most of his twenty-volume work al- 
Mughni, have been published. Commentaries on two of his 


Abd al Karim Sorush is the pen-name of Hassan Haj Faraj 
Dabbagh. Born in 1945 in Tehran, Sorush attended Alavi 
High School, an alternative school that offered a rigorous 
curriculum of Islamic studies in addition to the state mandated, 
standardized education in math and sciences. He studied 
Islamic law and exegesis with Reza Ruzbeh, one of the 
founders of the school. He attended Tehran University, and 
in 1969 graduated with a degree in pharmacology. He contin- 
ued his postgraduate education in histon and philosophy of 
science at Chelsea College in London. In 1979 he returned to 
Iran after the revolution, and soon thereafter was appointed 
by Ayatollah Khomeini to the Cultural Revolution Council. 
He resigned from this controversial post in 1983. 

In his most celebrated book, Qabz va Bast-i Teorik-i 
Shar/'at (The theoretical constriction and expansion of the 
shari'a), Sorush developed a general critique of dogmatic 
inlei prelalions of religion. He argued that, when turned into 
a dogma, religion becomes ideological and loses its universal- 
ity. He held that religious knowledge is inevitably historical 
and culturally contingent, and that it is distinct from religion, 
the truth of which is solely possessed by God. He posited that 
culture, language, history, and human subjectivity mediate 
the comprehension of the revealed text. Therefore, human 
understandings of the physical world, through science, for 
instance, and the changing nature of the shared values of 
human societies (such as citizenship and social and political 
rights) inform and condition religious knowledge. 

There was a contradiction between Sorush's understand- 
ing of epistemological problems oi human knowledge, which 
he saw as logical and methodical, and his emphasis on the 

historical contingencies of the hermeneutics of die divine 
text. This contradiction was resolved in his later writing in 
favor ofa more hermeneu lical approach. In his early work, he 
was influenced by analytical philosophy and skepticism ofa 
post-positivist logic, whereas in his later writings he adopted 
a more hermeneutical approach to the meaning of the sacred 
text. In his earlier work he put forward epistemological 
que tii 1 ihout the limil mil i tithltil le ol < I lirn re a rd 
ing knowledge, but in two important later books, Siratha-yi 
'in a urn (1 '' '• rah In paili I mil Bti • , 'uk < bird 
(1999, The expansion of the prophetic experience), he em- 
phasized die redexivity and pluraliti of human understand 
ing. In his plural usage of the Qur'anic phrase "straight 
paths," Sorush offered a radical break with both modernist 
and orthodox traditions in Islamic theology. 

In the 1990s, Sorush emerged as one the most influential 
Muslim thinkers in Iran. His theology contributed to the 
emergence ofa generation of Muslim reformers who chal- 
lenged the legitimization of the islamic Republic's rule based 
on divine sources rather than on democratic principles and 
popular c 

Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal Company. The 
tripartite British French Israeli invasion failed to topple his 
regime and solidified his reputation. Frustrated « ill: the pace 
of social and economic reform, in the early 1960s Nasser 
promoted a series of socialist decrees nationalizing key sec- 
tors of industry, agriculture, finance, and the arts. Egypt's 
relations with the Soviet bloc improved, but Nasser never 
turned entirely away from the West. In regional affairs the 
years after Suez were marked by a series of setbacks. The 
United Arab Republic (1958-1961) ended with Syria's cessa- 
tion, and the Yemeni civil war (1962-1967) entangled Egyp- 
tian troops in a quagmire. 

Many contend that Nasser never recovered from the 
disastrous defeat by Israel in June 1967. Yet he changed the 

face of Egypt 
and ushering 


on 28 Septe 
the grave. 

_g class privileges, narrowing social gaps, 
era of optimism. If Egyptians fault his 
id debate the wisdom of Arab social- 
secular orientation, many still recall his 
When he died suddenly ofa heart attack 
iber 1970, millions accompanied his coffin to 

See also Iran, Islamic Republic of; Khomeini, Ruhollah. See aho Nat i ona l ism . Arab; Pan-Arabism. 


Sadri. Mahrnoud. and Sadri. Ahmad, eds. Reason, Freedom, & 
Democracy in Islam ' I' hlkarim Soroush. 

Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 

Behroo ( lhamari-Tabrizi 


( ;<>rdon, Joel. Nasser's Blessed Movement: Egypt's Free Officers 
and the July Revolution. 2d ed. Cairo: American University 
in Cairo Press, 1996. 

Jankowski, James. Nasser's Egypt, * Irab Nationalism, and the 
United Arab Republic. Boulder. Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 2002. 


The Egyptian leader who dominated two decades of Arab 
history, Jamal c Abd al-Nasser was born 15 January 1918, the 
son ofa postal official. Raised in Alexandria and Cairo, he 
entered the military academy and u as commissioned in 1938. 
Thereafter, he joined a secret Muslim Brotherhood cell, 
where he met fellow dissidents with whom he later founded 
the Free Officers. On 23 July 1952 the Free Officers seized 
power; within a year they outlawed political parties and 
established a republic. In 1954, they dismissed the figurehead 
president Muhammad Najib (Naguib) and repressed all op- 
position. Elected president in June 1956, Nasser ruled until 
his death. Under his leadership Egypt remained a one-party 
state. The nihil parti h n 1 nam ral lira the irab 

Socialist Union, formed in 1962, survived until 1978 when 
Nasser's successor, Anw ar a! Sadat, abolished it. 

A charismatic leader, Nasser drew regional acclaim and 
international notoriety' for his championship of pan Arabism 
and his leadership role in the Non-Aligned Movement. His 
popularity soared during the 1956 Suez Crisis, sparked bj 

Joel Gordon 


During the early nineteenth century, 'Abd al-Qadir governed 
a state in Algeria. His family, claiming descent from Muham- 
mad, led a Qadiriyya brotherhood center (zircciya) in western 
Algeria. In 1831 the French conquered the port of Oran from 
the Ottomans. Fighting broke out in the Oranais among 
those tribes formerly subjected to Turkish taxes and those 
privileged to collect them. The Moroccan sultan, failing to 
pacify the tribes on his border, designated 'Abd al -Qadir's 
influential but aging fuller as his deputy. He, in turn, had 
tribal leaders proclaim his son commander of the faithful 
(amir al-mu'minin) in 1832. 

The highly educated and n ell traveled new amir negoti- 
ated two treaties with France (1834-1837). Happy to cede the 
job of tribal pacification to an indigenous leader, the French 
acknowledged him as the sovereign of western Algeria. 'Abd 
al-Qadir received French money and arms with which he 

organized an administration, diplomatic service, and supply 
services, including storage facilities, a foundry, and textile 

workshops, for a standing arm) of six Llionsand men. Unfor 
innately, frequent disputes, and even occasional failles, punc- 
tured the treaties. The final rupture came when c Abd al- 
Qadir began expantling into eastern Algeria. In response, the 
French decided on a complete conquest of Algeria and 
destroyed 'Abd al-Qadir's state (1839-1847), exiling him to 
Damascus. During his exile, the amir immersed himself in 
religious studies. He reemerged briefly into the public eye 
when riots shook Damascus in July 1860. It was then that 
Muslim resentment against perceived advantages enjoyed by 
Christians under the Ottoman reform edict of 1839 exploded 
into w idespread killings and lootings. Virtually alone among 
the notables of Damascus, Abd al Oadir shielded < Ihrislians 
from Muslim attackers. 

See also Tasawwuf. 

aimed at charting the reforn 

from various Muslin 
of Muslim peoples. 

Modernization, Political: Administrative, Mili- 
tary, and Judicial Reform; Modernization, Political: 
Authoritarianism and Democratization; Moderniza- 
tion, Political: Constitutionalism; Modernization, 
Political: Participation, Political Movements, and 


Husry, Khaldun S. Three Reformers: A Study in Modern Arab 

" cnlTi , Beirut: 1 hayats, 1966. 
Kramer, Martin, Islmii Assembled: The Adeem of the Muslim 

Congresses. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986. 

Sohail H. Hashmi 


Aouli, Smai; Redjala, Ramdane; and Zoummeroff, Philippe. 
Abdel-Kader. Paris: Fayard, 1994. 

Danziger, Raphael. . Ibd til Qudir and the . llgerians: Resistance 
to the French and Internal Consolidation New York: Homes 
& Meier, 1977. 


An Arab nationalist and reformer, 'Abd al Rahman Kawakibi 
was born in Aleppo, Syria, where he was educated and worked 
as an official and journalist until being forced by Ottoman 
opposition to relocate to Cairo in 1898. He joined the circle 
of Arab intellectuals surrounding Muhammad 'Abduh and 
Rashid Rida. Kawakibi's ideas are elaborated in two books, 
Taba'i' al-istibdad (Characteristics of tyranny) and Unnn al 
qura (Mother of cities). In the first, he argues that the 
Muslims's political decline is the result of their straying front 
original Islamic principles and the advent of mystical and 
fatalist interpretations. Such passivity, he argues, plays into 
the hands of despotic rulers, who historically have benefited 
from false interpretations of Islam. The book was a condem- 
nation of the rule of the Ottoman Turks. :,m\ particularly of 
the sultan Abd al-Hamid II. Arevival of Islamic civilization 
could come only after fresh interpretation of law ( , h, • 1 1 
educational reforms, and sweeping political change, begin 
ning with the institution of an Arab caliphate in the place of 
the Ottoman Turks. The theme of renewed Arab leadership 
in the Muslim umma is developed in the second book. The 
title is taken from a Qur'anic reference to Mecca, where 
Kawakibi places a fictional conference of representatives 


Abd al-Razzaq al Sanhuri was one of the most distinguished 
jurists and principal architects of modern Arab civil laws. Al- 
Sanhuri, a native of Alexandria, Egypt, obtained his law 
degree from what was then known as the Khedival School of 
Law of Cairo in 1917. He held different public posts includ- 
ing that of assistant prosecutor at the Mixed Courts of 
Alansura and as a lecturer at the Shari'a School forjudges. \\\ 
1921, he was awarded a scholarship to study law at the 
University of Lyon in France. In France, he wrote two 
doctoral dissertations, one on English law and the other on 
the subject of the caliphate in the modern age. In 1926, al- 
Sanhuri returned to Egypt where he became a law professor 
at the National University (now the Cairo University), and 
eventually became the dean of the law faculty. Because of his 
involvement in politics, and defense of the Egyptian Consti- 
tution, he was fired from his post in 1936, and left Egypt to 
become the dean of the Law College in Baghdad. 

After one year, he returned to Egypt where he held several 
high level cabinet posts before becoming the president of the 
Council of State in 1949. Initially, al-Sanhuri supported the 
movement of the Free Officers who overthrew the Egyptian 
monarch in 1952, but because of al Sanhuri's insistence on a 
return to civilian democratic rule and his defense of civil 
rights, he was ousted from his posilii in and persecuted. After 
1954, al Sanhuri withdrew from politics and focused his 
efforts on scholarship and modernizing the civil codes of 
several Arab countries. Al-Sanhuri heavily influenced the 
drafting of the civil codes of Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and 
Kuwait. One year before his death in Egypt, al-Sanhuri 
completed a huge multivolume commentary on civil law, 
called al-Was fi fhart. ' a m I n ', which is still 

Abd al-Wahhab, 

considered authoritative in many parts of the Arab world. He 
also wrote several highly influential works on Islamic con- 
tractual law, the most famous of which are Masadir til htiar/fi 

i I nil ] i i ' i 

of al-Sanhuri's most notable accomplishments was that he 
integrated and reconciled the civil law codes, which were 
French based, with classical Islamic legal doctrines. For 
;, he is credited with making Egyptian civil law more 
vith Islamic law. 

See also Law; Modernization, Political: Constitution- 


Hill, Enid. Al-Smihuri and Islamic Law. Cairo: American 
University of Cairo Press, 1987. 

KhaledAbou El-Fadl 

IBN (1703-1792) 

Muhammad Ibn Abd al W'ahhah was a religions scholar and 
conservative reformer whose teachings were elaborated by 
his followers into the doctrines of Wahhabism. Ibn 'Abd al- 
Wahhab was born in the small town of 'Uyayna located in the 
Najd territory of north central Arabia. He came from a family 
of Ilanbali scholars and receiv ed his early education horn his 
father, who served as judge (<//rdi) and tau gh t hadilh and lawal 
the local mosque schools. Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab left 'Uyayna 
at an early age, and probably journeyed first to Mecca for the 
pilgrimage and then continued to Medina, where he re- 
mained for a longer period. Here he was influenced by the 
lectures of Shaykh 'Abdallah b. Ibrahim al-Najdi on the neo- 
Hanbali doctrines of Ibn Taymiyya. 

From Medina, Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab traveled to Basra, 
where he apparently remained for some time, and then to 
Isfahan. In Basra he was introduced directly to an array of 
mystical (Sufi) practices and to Shi'ite beliefs and rituals. This 
encounter undoubtedly reinforced his earlier beliefs that 
Islam had been corrupted In the infusion of extraneous and 
heretical indue n< Hie beginnm ofhi i mi mist activism 
may be traced to the time when he left Basra around 1739 to 
return to the Najd. 

Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab rejoined his family in Huraymila, 
where his father had recently relocated. Here he composed 
the small treatise entitled Kitab id tawbid (Book of unity), in 
which he most clearh outlines his religio political mission. 
lie castigates not on]} die doctrines and practices of Sufism 
and Shi'ism, but also more widespread popular customs 
common to Sumiis as well, such as performing pilgrimages to 
the graves of pious personages and beseeching the deceased 

for intercession w ith ( loil. More generally, following a line of 
argument developed, much earlier by Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn 'Abd 
al Wahhab challenged the authority of the religious scholars 
(ulema), not only of his own time, but also the majority of 
those in preceding generations. These scholars had injected 
unlaw fid innovations {bid 1 a) into Islam, lie argued. In order to 
restore the strict monotheism (tad-hid) of true Islam, it was 
necessan to strip the pristine Islam of human additions and 
speculations and implement the laws contained in the Qur'an 
as interpreted by the Prophet and his immediate companions. 
Thus, Ibn 'Abd al Wahhab called for the reopening ol ijtihad 
(independent legal judgment) In qualified persons to reform 
Islam, but the end to which his ijtihadled was a consen alive. 
literal reading of certain parts of the Qur'an. 

Aspects of Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab's teachings, including 
asceticism, simplicity of faith, and emphasis on an egalitarian 
community, quickly drew followers to his cause. But his 
condemnation ei the alleged moral laxity of society, his 
challenge to the ulema, and to the political authority that 
supported them estranged him from his townspeople and, 
some claim, even from his own family. In 1740, he returned to 
his native village of 'Uyayna, where the local ruler (amir) 
Ulhman I). Bishr adopted his teachings and began to act on 
some of them, such as destroying tombs in the area. When 
this activity caused a popular backlash, Ibn Abd al Wahhab 
moved on to Dir'iyya, a small town in the Najd near present- 
day Riyadh. Here he forged an alliance with the amirMuham 
mad b. Sa'ud (d. 1765). who pledged military support on 
behalf of Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab's religious vocation. Ibn 'Abd 
al Wahhab spenl the remainder of his life in Dir'iyya, teach 
ingin the local mosque, counseling first Muhammad b. Sa'ud 
and then his son 'Abd al-'Aziz (d. 1801), and spreading bis 
teachings through followers in the Najd and Iraq. 

See also Wahhabiyya. 


Philby, Harry St. John Bridger. Arabia. New York: 
Scribners, 1930. 

Smith, Wilfred Canlwell. Islam in Modern History. Princeton, 
N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1957. 

Sohail H. Hashmi 


Muhammad 'Abduh was one of the most influential Muslim 
reformers and jurists of the nineteenth century. 'Abduh was 
born in the Nile Paver delta in northern Egypt and received a 

traditional Islamic education in Tanta. He graduated from al- 
Azhar University in Cairo in 1877, where he taught for the 

next two years. It was during this period that he metjamal al- 
Din Afghani, whose influence upon 'Abduh's thought over 
the next decade would be profound. When Afghani was 
expelled from Egypt in 1879, Abduh was also briefly exiled 
from Cairo to his native village. He returned to Cairo the 
following year to become editor of the official government 
tzelte, nl Wa \l 1 pli 11 \ ii 1 l>r n 

publishing articles on the need for reform in the country. 
When the British occupied Eg} pi following the 'Urabi revolt 
of 1882, 'Abduh was sentenced to three years's exile for 
assisting the nationalists. He lived briefly in Beirut before 
joining Afghani in Paris, where the two would publish the 
short-lived but highly influential journal al- c Urwa al-wuthqa 
("The firmest grip," based on the Qurianic references 2:256 
and 3 1 :22). 'Abduh returned to Beirut following the journal's 
demise in 1884, and it was during this sojourn that lie first met 
Rashid Rida, who would become his chief biographer and 
most distinguished disciple. 

In 1888, following his increasing estrangement from 
Afghani and a consequent rethinking of his earlier revolu- 
tionary ideas, 'Abduh was allowed to return to Cairo. He soon 
began a rapid ascent in Egyptian judicial and political circles. 
Beginning; as a judge in the new "native courts" created by the 
Egyptian government, Abduh became a member of the 
newh created administrative board for al Azhar \ 'niversity in 
1895, In 1899, he was appointed a member oldie Legislative 
Council, an advisory body serving at the behest of the 
khedive, the ruler of Egypt, and more importantly became in 
the same year the grand mufti, or the chief Islamic jurist, of 
Egypt. As the head of Egypt's religious law courts, Abduh 
championed reforms that he saw as necessary to make shari'a 
relevant to modern problems. He argued that the early 

lie i i ii i in h i the / / nee the name 

Salafiyya, which is given to Abduh and his disciples) had 
produced a vibrant civilization because they had creatively 
interpreted the Qur'an and hadith to answer the needs of 
their times. Such creative jurisprudence (ijtihad) was needed 
in the present, 'Abduh urged. In particular, modern jurists 
must consider public welfare (maslaha) over dogma when 
rendering judgments. The legal opinions (fatwas) he wrote 
for the government and private individuals on such issues as 
polygamy, divorce, and the status of non-Muslims bore the 
imprint of his reformist attitudes. 

During the last years of his life, 'Abduh collaborated with 
Rashid Rida in publishing the journal ill Miiiiur, founded by 
Rida in 1898. The journal became a forum for not only 
Abduh's legal rulings and reformist essays, but also a Our'anic 
commentary that had reached ihe middle of the fourth sura 
(chapter) when 'Abduh died in 1905. Rida would c 
publishing the journal until his death in 1935. 

The most systematic presentation of 'Abduh's approach 
to Islamic reform is found in his e ty iS i hid Hie 

theology of unity). In opposition to European positivist 

philosophers, he argues that reason and revelation are sepa- 
rate but inextricably linked sources foi ethics: "The ground of 
moral character is in beliefs and traditions and these can be 
built only on religion. The religious factor is, therefore, the 
most powerful of all, in respect both of public and of private 
ethics. It exercises an authority over men's souls superior to 
that of reason, despite man's uniquely rational powers" (p. 106). 

See also Afghani, Jamal al-Din; Reform: Arab Middle 
East and North Africa; Rida, Rashid; Salafiyya. 


'Abduh, Muhammad. The Theology of Unity. Translated by 

Ishaq Musa'ad and Kenneth Cragg. London: George 

Allen & Unwin, 1966. 
Hourani, Albert. Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age: 1798-1939. 

Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1983. 
Kerr, Malcolm H. Islamic Reform: The Political and Legal 

Theories of Muhammad '. Ibtl/ih and Rashid Rida. Berkeley: 

University of California Press, 1966. 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

ABU BAKR (573-634) 

Abu Bakr b. Abi Quhafa, the first caliph (r. 632-634), and a 
member of the clan of Taym of the tribe of the Quraysh, was 
the first adult male convert to Islam, and the Prophet's close 
companion. A merchant and an expert on the genealogies of 
the Arab tribes, Abu bakr came to be known as al-Siddiq, the 
truthful, or the one who trusts, a reference to the fact that he 
alone immediately believed the Prophet's story of his night 
journey to Jerusalem. Recognized even in Mecca as the 
foremost member of the Muslim community after Muham- 
mad, he is credited with the purchase and release of several 
slaves, including Bilal, renowned for proclaiming the first 
Muslim call to prayer. Abu Bakr was chosen by Muhammad 
to accompany him on his "flight" or hijra to Medina in 622 
c.e. He became Muhammad's father-in-law when his young 
daughter, 'A'isha, married the Prophet. 

Taking the title khalifat rasiil Allah, meaning Successor to 
the Messenger of God, Abu Bakr became the first caliph of 
Islam upon Muhammad's death in 632 c.e. Just before his 
death, Abu Bakr refused to recall the expedition sent to Syria. 
At the same time, he was forced to baule the wars of Apostasy, 
or Ridda, against the Yemen, Yarnania, and die tribes of Asad, 
Ghatafan, and Tamim, who refused t< > pay the lithe or zakat, 
which was considered an integral part of accepting Islam. It 
was because of the death of many leaders during these battles 
that Abu Bakr, on the advice of 'Umar, ordered Zayd b. 
Thabit to compile a collection of the Qurianic verses. 

See also Caliphate; Succession. 


Kennedy, Hugh. The Prophet and the Age of fin Caliphate. 
London: Longman Group Ltd., 1986. 

Alolzki, llarald. "The ( Collection of the Quran: AReconsid 
eration of Western Views in Light of Recent Methodo- 
logical Developments." Der Islam 78 (2001): 1-34. 

Watt, Montgomery W. "Abu Bakr." In Enexelupcdia of Islam. 
2d ed. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960. 

Rizwi Faizer 

See also Modern Thought; Political Islam; Wahhabiyya. 


Loimeier, Roman. Islamic Re firm and Political Change in 
Northern Nigeria. Evanston, 111.: Northwestern University 
Press, 1997. 

Tsiga, Ismaila A. Sin ill lluib, kin Ctnih \\ here I Stand. 
Ibadan, Nigeria: Spectrum Books Ltd., 1992. 

Roman Loimeier 

ABU BAKR GUMI (1922-1992) 

Abu Bakr Gumi, born in Gumi/Sokoto province, northern 
Nigeria, was a leading personality in the development of the 
Nigerian Islamic reform movement and author of a number 
of influential works, such as Al a l > i 

ash-shari c a (The sound faith according to the prescriptions of 

1 hari md i d al adhhau , / i (Reconsid 

ering the meaning of the holy Qur'an). 

Gumi was one of the first northern Nigerians to experi- 
ence a dual education in the Islamic sciences as well as in the 
British colonial education system. After completing his 
Quranic as well as primary school education, Gumi attended 
the Sokoto Middle School from where he went to the Kano 
Law School to he trained as a qadi (Muslim judge) from 1942 
to 1947. After graduation he worked briefly as scribe io Alkali 
Attahiru in Sokoto. In 1947 he became a teacher at the Kano 
Law School and was transferred to Marti, Sokoto Pnn ince. in 
1949, where he had a confrontation with a local imam as well 
as the sultan of Sokoto over the que lion ol tayammirm the 
ritual ablution with sand. In the context of this confrontation 
with the established authorities Gumi was supported by 
Ahmadu Bello, the future prime minister of northern Nige- 
ria, who in 1955 called upon Gumi to act as his advisor in 
religious affairs and in J 956 appointed himdepuu grand kadi 
ol northern Nigeria. In litis position, and later (from 1962) as 
grand kadi, ( itimi v, as able to earn out a number of reforms in 
the judicial system of northern Nigeria and to fight effec- 
tively against the influence of the Sufi brotherhoods, especially 
the Qadiriyya and the Tijaniyya. After Bello's assassination in 
1966, Gumi lost his institutional backing and started to 
develop a network of followers that became, in the 1970s, 
northern Nigeria's first reformist Muslim organization, the 
Jama'at izalat al-bid'a wa-iqamat as-sunna (Association for 
the removal of innovation and for the establishment of the 
sunna, 1978). Gumi remained influential in Nigerian relig- 
ious politics in the 1980s when he acted as advisor to presi- 
dents Shehu Shagari (1979-1983) and Ibrahim Babangida 
(1985-1993). From 1962, Gumi was also a member of the 
Rabiuil al 'alarn al Island (Muslim World League), where he 
sal in the Legal (Committee, and a member of the World 
Supreme Council for the Affairs of Mosques. 

ABU HANIFA (699-767) 

Abu llanifa al-Nu'manb. Thabitb. Zurtiwas the eponymous 
founder of the Hanafi school {madhhab) of Islamic law. His 
birth dales are given variously but the year 699 is considered 
the most sound based on many biographical dictionaries. Abu 
llanifa died and was buried in Baghdad, though sources differ 
concerning the month of his death. A shrine was built in 1066 
over the site of his tomb, and the quarter of the city is called 
the al-A c zamiyyah after Abu Hanifa's epithet al-hnam al- 
A c zam, the "Great Imam." 

In his Jatvahir al-mtidiyya, Ibn Abi al-Wafa' provides a 

genealogy, on the authority of Abu Ishaq Ibrahim h. Muham 
mad al Sarilini (d. 1243). which links Abu Hanifa's family 
with the Sassanian kings, the Kayyanid kings, and Judah, the 
eldest son of the prophet Jacob. Many sources mention that 
Abu Hanifa was of Persian descent, that his family were 
sellers of silk. Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi (d. 1374) reports that 
Abu Hanifa's grandfather Zurti (also given as Zuta) is said to 
have been a slave brought from Kabul to Kufa where the 
family was attached to the Arab tribe of Taym-Allah b. 
Tha c laba. Other sources claim thai Abu Hanifa's family was 
from Babylon, or the city of Anbar (on the Euphrates about 
forty miles from Baghdad). 

Most Muslim biographical dictionaries focus on the rela- 
tive authority of Abu llanifa as a transmitter of hadith 
reports. It is said that a number of the younger ahaba 
(Companions) were still alive during the lifetime of Abu 
J laniia but he onh transmitted hadith from one of these, the 
well-known Anas b. Malik (d. 709 or 7 1 1). Among the tabi c un 
(Followers) from whom he transmitted hadith reports are 
<Ata 5 b. Abi Rabah (d. 732 or 733), al-Sha c bi (d. 724) and 
Nafi c , the client of Ibn c Umar. Many authot itie regard ibu 
Hanifa as a trustworthy transmitter but others question the 
authority of his sources. In his Vl il al-Dhahabi 

cites opinions that Abu Hanifa should be considered weak as a 
transmitter of hadith, and that his legal opinions rely upon 
personal opinion (ra'y). Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi (d. 1083) criti- 
cizes Abu Hanifa for having received most of his knowledge 
of hadith reports from Ibrahim al Nakha'i rather than from 
the sahabah who were still reliable transmitters during his 

In terms of his reputation as a jurist, Abu Hanifa is 
credited with founding the Hanafi school of law, and is given 
the epithet "imam" because of this role. In his Tadhkirat <// 
huffaz, a] Dhahabi repeats a conversation in which Yazid b. 
Harun says that Sufyan al-Thawri (d. 778) was more knowl- 
edgeable in hadith but Abu Hanifa was more knowledgeable 
in |'ii, |ii i li hi mil [aw. ] I lull null li In i I ! i u 
(d. 820), whose legal opinions often rival those of the Ilanafis, 
is reported to have attributed great learning in jurisprudence 
to Abu Hanifa. Many sources refer to Hammad b. Abi 
Sulayman (d. 738) as Abu Hanifa's primary teacher in juris- 
prudence, and Joseph Schacht considers Abu Hanifa to have 
adapted the bulk of his legal opinions from him. Yazid b. 
Harun also states that he did not know anyone more pious 
and rational than Aim Hanifa. Bishr I), al Walid reports that 
Abu Hanifa used to praj all night, and that he never learned 
or transmitted a hadith that he did not himself practice. 

After Abu Hanifa's death his legal opinii ins and the hadith 
reports that he transmitted were compiled into texts. There 
are no extant collections of works composed by Abu Hanifa 
himself. His legal opinions can be found in the lkhtilaf. ibi 
Ihinifa ecu Il'ii , ibi Liyhi and the al lladd 'ala siyar til Accza'i, 
both attributed to Abu Yusuf (d. 798), one of Abu Hanifa's 
closest disciples. To another of Abu Hanifa's disciples, Muham- 
mad al-Shaybani (d. 805), is attributed the al-H jab) ' ' ' / 

/ ' I ili / 

both containing the legal opinions of Abu Ilaniia which later 
became the basis for Hanafi legal scholarship. Some of the 
hadith reports transmitted by Abu Hanifa can be found 
collected in the Shu / bar and Bin > ' 

hadith of Ahmad b. Muhammad al Tahawi (d. ''33), and in the 
later Jtiini niasanid Abi I lanifa compiled by Aim al Mifayyad 
Muhammad b. Mahmud al-Khwarizmi (d. 1257). 

Classical Hanafi jurisprudence developed primarily as 
compendia and commentaries on the legal opinions of Abu 
Hanifa and their interpretation by his main students, Abu 

\ u ni u I >1 iii n inn d 1 Ih - li ni Hi j \ ,i [•/. , 'i ft ,, I. 
i H fa n man by Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Quduri(d. 
1037) contains a collection of the opinions of these three 
1 I hi ui iiilhoi ilii i l< r the Otin nibsiitoi} lull mm ' 1 

b. Ahmad al-Sarakhsi (d. 1090). The works of later Hanafi 
scholars such as Abu Bakr b. Mas'ud al-Kasani (d. 1191), 'Ali 
b. Abi Bakr al-Marghinani (d. 1 197), 'Abdallah b. Ahmad al- 
Nasafi (d. 1310), c Uthman b. Ali al-Zaylai' (d. 1342), Ibn 
Nujaym (d. 1562), and <Abd al-Hakim al-Afghani (d. 1907) 
are largely based upon these earlier compilations of opinions 
going hack to Aim 1 lanifa and his immediate disciples. These 
works, building upon the opinions of Abu Hanifa and his 
main students, show the influence of Abu Hanifa upon the 
development of Islamic legal theory and case law. 

Abu Hanifa is also credited with a number of creedal and 
theological works, though some scholars assign the reaction 

of these to followers of Aim Hanifa. Two such works are the 

/ ///'/// ' I'lillini and the Fii/h al a list n hii li i onl lin 

a series of questions and ansn ers between Abu 1 lanifa and his 
disciple Abu Muti' al-Balkhi (d. 799). Extant is a letter written 
by Abu Hanifa to 'Uthman al-Batti, which resembles the 
perspective found in these other works. Also attributed to 

Vim 1 I nil i ih ' / / le so called Fit/h a t I 

and the Wash yat Abi Hanifa. 1 he ten creedal articles of the 
Fit/h nl tikbar closeh parallel the views found in the Fit/h til 
absat, but scholars such as Arent Jan Wensinck have assigned 
111 i /(ill! I 

though they may have been influenced by the earlier works. 
The creedal works of later 1 lanafis such as Tahawi and Abu 
al Laytli al Samarqandi (d. 993) may also show the influence 
of Abu Hanifa's theology. Because of Abu Hanifa's close 
association to these creedal statements, later scholars have 
emphasized the influence of Abu Hanifa on the development 
ol widespread and official!) sanctioned definitions of Mus- 
lim belief. 

See also Law; Madhhab. 


Abu Zahra, Muhammad. Abu Hanifa. 2d ed. Cairo: 1947. 
Dhahabi, Shams al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmad. Mizan 

al-i 'tidal fi nat/d al rijai. Beirut: Dar al-Ma'arif, n.d. 
Dhahabi. Shams al Din Muhammad I). Ahmed. Kifab tadhkirat 

al-huffaz. Beirut: Dar al Ivuttih al ilmivva, n.d. 
Dhahabi, Shams al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmed. Siyyar a'lam 

Beirut: Mu H d i'l il I"" 

Ibn Abi al-WafY, c Abd al (Jadir b. Muhammad. . il Jaevtihir 

al-mudiyya fi tabat/at til llanafiyya. Beirut: Mu'assasat al- 

Risala, 1993. 
Ibn II i| u vhin ! li li ' ' Beirut: Dar al- 

Kutub al-'Ilmiyya, 1994. 
Ibn al c Im id. Abd al Hat t i t 

dhtihiib. Beirut: Dar al Aiaq al Jadida, n.d. 
Schacht, Joseph. Origins of ' Miihaininadan jurisprudence. 2d 

ed. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1953. 
Wensinck, Arent Jan. The Muslim Creed: Its Genesis and 

Historical Development. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Uni- 
versity Press, 1932. 

Bran nun M. H 'heeler 


Abu '1-Hasan Bani-Sadr, born in 1933 to a clerical family 
from the city ofllamadan, became the first president-elect of 
the islamic Republic of Iran after the 1979 revolution. He 
studied Islamic law and economics at the University of 
Tehran, then continued his studies al the Sorbonne, in Paris, 
where his focus was on economics and the role of Islam in 

social change. Like many of his contemporaries, who com- 
bined western European training with an Islamic education. 
he developed a focus on interpreting Islam as a "unitarian" 
ideolog) to i < ) for economic and cultural independence 
from the West, based on the notion of divine unity. 

Bani-Sadr lived in exile in Europe from 1963 until 1979, as 
a result of his political activities at Tehran University. In 
Europe he became one of the most important activists of the 
National Front in Iran and abroad and a key organizer of 
Iranian students outside Iran. He came in contact with 
Ayatollah Khomeini first in 1972, in Najaf, and later in 
France where Khomeini spent his last days in exile. In 1980, 
Bani-Sadr became the first president-elect of the Islamic 
Republic of Iran with 75 percent of the vote. He did not 
represent any organization or political parly. In contrast, his 
opponents in the Islamic Republic Party (IRP) were well- 
organized and made advances in the parliamentary election, 
and in the spring of 1980 they dominated the parliament. In 
1980 and 1981 effective power shifted to the IRP parliamen- 
tary majority who named Prime Minister Raja 5 I ignoring 
Bani-Sadr's candidates for the cabinet. He later lost his 
presidency to conservative rivals in the IRP, as a result of a 
parliamentary vote of incompetence and impeachment. Later 
he fled the country and once again joined the exiled opposi 
tion in Paris. 

See also Iran, Islamic Republic of; Revolution: Islamic 
Revolution in Iran. 


Keddie, Nikki R. Roots of Revolution: An Interpretive History 
of Modern Iran. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University 
Press, 1981. 

Mazyar Lotfalian 

(750-C. 850) 

Muhammad b. al-Hudhayl b. 'Ubaydallah al-'Abdi was the 
first philosophically minded theologian of the Alu'tazilite 
school. Born in Basra around 750 c.e., he lived in the neigh- 
borhood of foragers ('allafun), where he spent the early part of 
his life. He was a student of 'Uthman al-Tawil, who was one 
of the disciples of Wasil b. c Ata, the founder of al-Mu c tazila. 
He moved to Baghdad in 818 and lived a long life, as various 
dates between 840 and 850 are given for his death. Abu '1- 
Hudhayl opposed some views of his contemporary theologi- 
ans, such as the skeptic dualism of Salih b. c Abd al-Quddus, 
the determinism of Dirar b. Amr, the physics of Abu Bakr al- 
Asamm, and the ethical theory of Bishr b. Ghiyas al-Marisi. 
He also engaged in polemical discussions with the followers 
of other religions, especially those of the ancient Iranian 

beliefs. His nephew and critic Abu Ishaq al Nazzam as well as 
Yahya b. Bishr and Abu Ya qui) al Shahham were among his 
closest students. 

Abu '1-Hudhayl's numerous works are not extant, though 
some of his views are quoted in early kalam sources. His 
metaphysics of created beings, indh isible atoms, motion, and 
the cause-effect process of generation (tawallud) provoked 
intellectual discussions and controversies among Alu'lazilites. 
In order to protect the unity (tad-bid) of God as the main 
principle, he denied the essential nature of things as well as 
the potentiality of being prior to 
rejected a division between the essenc 
Abu '1-Hudhayl found no contradicti 
ity of God and His doing good action 
unthinkable that God does evil oi 
absence of deficiency 
create the best and the 
for Hi 

and attributes of God. 

n between the author- 
:tions with wisdom, since it is 
il or injustice with a total 
Therefore, He would only 
(aslab) ci 

Abu '1-Hudhayl's atomistic ontology and highly philo- 
sophical terminology shaped the mind of later Alu'lazilites, 
and his systematic reflections on theological topics make him 
one of the most influential thinkers of Alu'tazilite thought al 
the beginning of its classical age. 

See also Mu'tazilites, Mu'tazila. 


1 >h in mi Vim >oi '/ ''/>) ' Tl. y of Kalaii Itonis i 
andVoidinBasi 1 1 \h I 1 i i: Brill, 1 ' 

Ess, Josef van. "Abu'l-Hudhayl in Contact: The Genesis of 
an Anecdote." In Islamic Theology and Philosophy: Stadies in 
Honor of George T . Iloarai/i. Edited by Alicheal Marmura. 
Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984. 

Frank. Richard Al. The Metaphysics of Created Being, lecording 
to Abu'l-Hudhayl i I / I PI. >phi Study of the Earli- 
est Kalam. Istanbul: Nederlands llisiorisc h-Archaeologisch 
Instituut, 1966. 

Frank, Richard M. "The Divine Attributes According to the 
Teaching of Abu'l-Hudhayl al-Allaf." Le Museon 82 
(1969): 451-506. 

[ i ml Richard Al. ft ' thct Ittril < Ti Teael iin > 

Basrian School of tl > \hri t i the Ci weal Period. Albany: 
State University of New York Press, 1978. 

M. Sait Ozervarli 


Born in Tehran, Abu '1-Qasem Kashani studied in Najaf and 
became a mujtahid (religious scholar) at the age of twenty- 
five. He began his political activities in Najaf against the 
British domination of Iraq. In 1916, Kashani's father was 

killed in an uprising and British authorities condemned 
Kashani to death in absentia. He fled to Iran in 1921 and 
began teaching and preaching in Tehran. 

Kashani was imprisoned in the 1930s because of his pro- 
German activities. In 1949, after an attempt on the Shah's 
life, he was exiled to Lebanon. In June 1950, he returned to 

Iran, was elected to the Majlis, and became its Speaker. 

During the crisis over the nationalization of Iran's oil 
industry and the ensuing conflict with the British (1950-1953), 
Kashani made and broke alliances with the Fcdai'yan-e Islam 
and the National Front of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq. He 
was instrumental in the assassination of the prime n 
c Abd al-Husayn Hazhir and Husayn Ali Razmara. 

Kashani was an ami British, anlicolonialist, ; 
constitutionalist, nationalist, and pan-Islamist religious- 
political leader. Although Kashani's opinions about Iranian 
nationalism, the role and function of the shatfa, and attitude 
toward the West differed from his clerical predecessors and 
successors, political acta hies of the Shkite tilema after World 
War II were greatly inspired and influenced by his views and 
activities. Indeed, many of his ideas were elaborated by 
leaders of the revolution of 1978 and 1979, including Ayati >1 
lah Khomeini, and formed the foundation of the Islamic 

See also Feda'iyan-e Islam; Iran, Islamic Republic of; 
Majlis; Mosaddeq, Mohammad. 


Akhavi, Shahrough. "The Role of Clergy in banian Politics, 
1 949 1 4 Ln Mo I Jit I omilism, and Oil. 

Edited by James Bill and Roger Louis. Austin: University 
of Texas Press, 1988. 

Faghfoory, Mohammad H. "The Role of the Ulama in 
Twentieth Century Iran with Particular Reference to 
Ayatullah Hajj Sayyid Abulqasim Kashani." Ph.D. diss.. 
University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1978. 

Mohammad H. Faghfoory 


Like all legal systems and theories, Islamic law and its legal 
theory are not free from ambiguitj and tensions. Nowhere is 
such ambiguity more pronounced than in the treatment of 
'ada or custom (alternalh ely called ' urfj in Islamic legal theory. 

Generally, the term 'ada is derived from Arabic, and 
means local customs, recurring ha bits, and social mores of the 
people. In the context of the epistemology of Islamic law, 
especially as it relates to what constitutes formal sources of 
law, classical Islamic jurisprudence does not recognize cus- 
tom as a formal source. In the norma th e structure of Islamic 

law, it is the Qur'an as God's revealed word that is rated as the 
first primary source. Prophet Muhammad's surma, that is, his 
conduct, authentic sayings, acts, and behavior that he ap- 
proved is rated as the second primary source. In addition to 
these two sources there other sources (or legal principles) 
such as the consensus (ijma 1 ) of Muslim jurists orscholars and 
analogical reasoning (qiyas) — these combined then constitute 
w hat have become the normative formal sources of Islamic law . 

However, notwithstanding the accepted normative hier- 
archy of what constitutes formal sources, Islam's encounter 
with other host cultures has compelled Islamic legal theory to 
evaluate the status of custom. For example, through such 
encounters, 'iidn. that is, the hitherto ambiguous source, has 
throughout the history of Islamic legal theory served as a 
flexible legal principle that helps Islamic law to evolve and 
thus meet the challenge of changing circumstances and times. 
This assertion finds ample support in Muslim juristic think 
ing. For example, a reflection on the founding jurists of the 
two main Sunni schools of Islamic law, namely, the Maliki 
and Hanaii schools, shows how various legal rules that were 
passed by the founders of these schools were based on the 
strength of communal practice and norms. A good example 
here is the ruling passed by Imam Malik b. Anas (d. 795 c.e.) 
that a woman cannot contract herself in marriage. On the 
same question, the Hanaii jurist, Imam Abu Hanifa (d. 767 
c.e.) gave a different ruling that allow ed a mature woman to 
contract herself. What is crucial to note here, though, is not 
so much the question of which of the two opinions is better, 
but rather the fact that the basis of the two legal rulings is 
primarily informed by social reality and what is popular 
communal practice. Noel James Coulson in his seminal 
article titled "Muslim Case Law" has presented a cogent 
argument in winch lie demonstrates that the opinion of Malik 
reflects the dominant view of marriage and the position of 
women within a predominantly patriarchal tribal society of 
Medina. And by contrast, Ab n I la n i fa's judgment mirrors the 
cosmopolitan nature of Kula u here \\ omen enjoyed a slightly 
more accommodating em ironment than in Medina. 

Mthough often denied, the impact of c ada in Muslim legal 

theory is also evident in Muhammad b. Idris a! Shali'i (d. 819 
c.e.), founder of the Shafi'i school. For instance, the force of 
communal praxis and the ethos of Egypt obliged al-ShafEi to 
change a range of legal rulings thai he sanctioned while in 
Baghdad before his migration to Egypt. 

In addition to the aforementioned early jurists, the effi- 
cacy of'ada is also stressed by Abu Ishaq al- Shatibi (d. 1388) 
whom Wael Hallaq in his A Hist* y of him c Li I Tl. rii 
regards as representing the "culmination" of maturity in 
Islamic legal theory. A critical reading of Shatibi's legal 
philosophy illustrates that c ada, though often measured under 
the concept of iiwslnhu (public good), does occupy a central 
position in his legal thought. For Shatibi. Islamic law in its 
early phase, that is, in the prophetic era of Muhammad, 

simply confirmed most of the pre-Islamic Arabian c 

practiced by die people before their acceptance of Islam. For 
example, Islamic laws like diya (blood money), rituals of hajj 
(pilgrimage), and interestingly even ihe J11///11 (Muslim Fri- 

d i\ ( ongi ( in- mal |)i . \ 1 ti di 1. Lin ' i trict J damii 

identity, were initially practices that were predominant in 
pre Islamic Arabia. As habitual and popular customs these 
were rehabilitated by Islamic law and confirmed as Islamic- 

Moving away from the formath e classical period into the 
modern period, especially from the eighteenth to the twenti- 
eth century, examples gleaned from Africa and Asia also show 
that the predominance of custom not only shaped and influ- 
enced shari'a, but custom became a law operating on its own 
right independent of sbari'a. What is discernible here is that 
custom in the modern context ceases to be merely a creative 
legal tool whose utility is only limned to make Islamic law 
adaptable to changing circumstances, but as "customary law" 
it becomes part of a dual legal system that is on par with 
shari'a. Again, Coulson provides a good example when he 
points out how in both Africa and Asia local practices, 
especially as they pertain to land tenure, were mostly "regu- 
lated by customary rules" (p. 261). These either comple- 
mented shari'a or simply subsumed it. For instance, in the 
Indian subcontinent this is illustrated in the popular "shari'a 
act of 1937" that was initially designed to cater to all Muslims 
in the region. However, as it turned out, a majority of 
Muslims preferred to be exempted from shari'a thus giving 
primacy to customary laws over the former. 

Finally, it can be concluded thai social exigencies, espe- 
cially in the sociocommercial spheres, have compelled a 
majority of Muslim jurists, albeit reluctantly, to recognize 
' ada as a reliable legal tool. I bis rec< ignition has come largely 
through what these jurists normally refer to as "creative legal 
devices." In particular, it is through these creative legal t< >< ils, 
of which custom is one of the central principles, that popular 
religious practices that would otherwise be rejected by shari'a 
find acceptance. Thus maxims such as: "What is known 
through custom is legally binding" and "what is evident 
through custom is as authentic as the text or shari'a" became 
acceptable principles in Islamic legal theory. 

See also Africa, Islam in; American Culture and Islam; 
Law; South Asia, Islam in; Southeast Asian Culture 
and Islam. 


Coulson, Noel James. 'Muslim Custom and Case Law." In 
Islamic Law and Legal Theory. Edited by Ian Edge. New 
York: New York University Press, 1996. 

Ilallaq, Wad. . 1 History of Islamic Legal Theories: . in Introduc- 
tion to Sunni Usui at Fiqh. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge 
University Press, 1993. 

Kami ili Jon mm 1 1 I i 1 him I' , f Islam 1 ispi 

dence. Selangor, Malaysia: Pelanduk Publications, 1989. 
Libson, Gideon. "On the Development of Custom as a 

Source of Law in Islamic Law." Islamic Law and Society 4, 

no. 2(1997): 131-155. 
Masud, Khalid M. Islamic Legal Philosophy: A Study of Abu 

Ishaq al-Shatibi's Life and Thought. Delhi: International 

Publishers, 1989. 
Ziadeh, Farhat. "'Urf and Law in Islam." In The World of 

Islam: Studies in Honor of Philip K. Hitti. Edited by J. 

Kritzek and R. Winder. London: Alacmillan, 1959. 

Tahir Fuzile Sitoto 


The term adab fundamentally denotes a custom or norm of 
conduct. In the early centuries of Islam, the term came to 

convey either an ethical implication of proper personal quali 
ties or the suggestion of the cultivation and knowledge of a 
range of sensibilities and skills. In its plural form, adab 
acquired the meaning of rules of c< >ndi ict, often specified for a 
particular social or occupational group, like the aadaab (pi.) of 
the legist or the prince. In addition, adab specified the 
accomplishments that made one polished and urbane, an 
expert in the arts not subsumed under the category of relig- 
ious learning. Often, in recent times, adab has meant simply 
literature in the narrow sense. 

Underlying the concept of adab is a notion of discipline 
and training, indicating as well the good breeding and refine- 
ment that results from such self control and training. In all its 
uses, adab reflects a high value placed on the employment of 
the will in proper discrimination of correct order, behavior, 
and taste. The term implicitly or explicitly distinguishes 
cultivated behavior from that deemed vulgar, for example, 
from pre-Islamic custom. The term's root sense of proper 
conduct and discrimination, of discipline, and moral forma- 
tion, especially fostered in the Sufi tradition, has been brought 
to the fore in many modern reform movements. In that sense, 
/ ill 1 011 1 I n 1 / 11 inn 1 ethics") and is 

now understood to be within the reach of ordinary people and 
not only educated or holy specialists. 

See also Arabic Literature; Ethics and Social Issues. 


Gabrieli, F. "Adab." In Vol. 1, Encyclopedia of Islam. 2d ed. 
Leiden: Brill, 1960. 

Melcalf, Barbara D.. ed. Moral Conduct and Authority: The 
Place of Adab in South , Isiau Islam. Berkeley: University of 
California Press, 1984. 

Barbara D. Melcalf 


The adhan along' with its abridged accompaniment, the iqania, is 
an oral rite linked to mosques, daily prayer, sacred identity, 
and birth rites. The adhan and the iqamah are usually called 
outside and inside mosques, respectively: The former signals 
prayer times, and the latter the beginning of congregational 
prayer. The adhan given in public signals the presence of 
Islam, and gives members of a lai I lecenti lhzed faith a 
sense of belonging. The adhan functions as a disjtmcttire 
between the sacred and the profane, between the Friday 
prayer, for instance, and the world of trade. It also distin- 
guishes Islam from other religions: When Muslims needed 
some means to announce the prayer, they asked for a horn, a 
Christian symbol, but were providentially directed to the 
dl. /.ins! d. Finall ill / is chanted into the right ear 

of a newborn and the iqania into the left ear. 

The adhan consists of invocations and attestations: Four 
glorify Cod, two attest to I lis Oneness, two a nest to Mil ham 
mad being Messenger, two call to prayer, two call to success, 
two glorify God, and one declares His Oneness. The Shi'ites 
add: 'Ali is the friend of God, and prayer is the best of deeds. 
For a while some mosques in Europe replaced the muezzin 
whocalled theadhan with a tape recorder, while in Turkey, in 
1948, the government decreed that the adhan be given in 
Turkish. Both these efforts ultimately failed. 

See also Devotional Life; Ibadat; Masjid. 


Parkin, Da\ id, and 1 leadley, Stephen G, eds. Islamic Prayer 
across the Indian Ocean: Inside and Outside the Mosque. 
Surrey, U.K.: Curzon, 2000. 

Miincer (inula in Farced 


Jamal al-Din Afghani, one of the most influential Muslim 
reformers of the nineteenth century, was most likely born in 
Asadabad, Iran, into a Shi'ite family. Throughout his life, 
however, he emphasized his Afghan ancestry, perhaps to 
broaden his appeal to Sunni Muslims. Little concrete infor- 
mation is available about his early life, but he probably 
received a traditional Islamic education in Iran and Iraq. 
During a visit to India around 1855, he was exposed to 
Western scientific and political thought for the first time. His 
slay in India coincided with the Sepoj Mutiny of 1857 (the 
Indian revolt against the East India Company), and his 
attitudes toward European and particularly British imperial- 
ism may have begun to form then. Around 1866, Afghani 
began his peripatetic career as a Muslim intellectual and 

political activist by accepting a post in the 
Afghanistan. Over the next thirty years he traveled to or 
resided in Istanbul, Cairo. Paris, London, Tehran, and St. 
Petersburg, frequently being forced to relocate because of his 
reformist view s and political activities. Afghani is commonly 
viewed as the nineteenth century's chief ideologue of pan- 
Islamism. But his ideas, many of them expressed through the 
journal al-'Urwa al-ivuthqa (The firmest grip; a reference to 
Qur'an 2:256, 31:22), which he copublished with Muham- 
mad Aiuluh, never amounted to a coherent ideology. More 
than anything else, Afghani was driven by opposition to 
European imperialism in Muslim countries, which he argued 
could be fought only by a rejuvenation of Islamic culture. 

See also Reform: Arab Middle East and North Africa; 


Hourani, Albert. Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age: 1798-1939. 
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1983. 

Ived lie i 1 1 i I In 1 I nil c Rcspoi/si > Imperial <: Polh cal 
i i ' i i i Din ~al Afghani 

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. 

Sohail H. Hashmi 


Islam has an important past and present within Africa. It has 
been present in Africa since the very early days of the faith, 
and it constitutes the practice of roughly half the population 
of the continent, or some 250 million people. While most of 
the Muslims live in the northern ha 1 f, i in pi >rtan t communities 
can be found in South Africa. Malawi, and other parts of 
southern Africa. This history and this importance are often 
misunderstood in the West and in the Mediterranean centers 
of the Islamic world. Scholars and the intelligent lay public do 
not naturally identify Africa with Islam. 

Indeed, Africa is usually equated with sub-Saharan or 
"black" Africa in most definitions. Egypt and the Maghreb 
are lumped with the Middle East in the language of the 
World Bank, U.S. State Department, and most ministries of 
foreign affairs, as well as in this encyclopedia. The defining 
characteristic of Islam is often the Arabic language, as the first 
language of communication in the home, business, govern- 
ment, and the media, as well as identification with the Arab 
world and thus the origins of Islam. This is not a clear 
definition, however, since Berber languages are still u idely 
spoken in the Maghrib and the Sahara. \\ hile Arabic is spoken 
by much of the Sudan and important n 
Saharan Africa. 

This article focuses on sub-Saharan Afric: 
Muslim societies rather than "Islam" in one ; 

nul dea 


These societies, throughout bistorj and to the present, dem- 
onstrate all of the varieties of the faith that one might expect: 
orthodox practice, radicalism, Sufism, and many creative 
combinations with local, non-Islamic practices. Muslims in 
Africa have practiced the jihad of the sword from time to 
time, but they have also demonstrated a great deal of toler- 
ance of other practices — "pagan," Christian, and other. The 
Maliki school ol law has traditionally been dominant in north 
and west Africa, while the Shafi'ite pattern has prevailed 
along the Red Sea and the Swahili coast. 

Northeast Africa 

The earliest Muslim presence in Africa acltialh antedates the 
event known as the hijm, when Muhammad left Mecca for 
Medina in 622 c.e. At a time when the Prophet was already 
beginning to feel the hostility of his Meccan compatriots, he 
sent a large portion of his followers — about one hundred 
according to the principal hadith to the Christian emperor 
of Aksum (ancient Abyssinia), an important state in northeast 
Africa, for safekeeping in 615 and 616 c.e. This is sometimes 
called the first hijrti. Muhammad called lor this community to 
return after he established himself in Medina, and there is 
little evidence of any ongoing Muslim group in Aksum or any 
other part of Ethiopia at this time. But the brief exile demon- 
strates the presence at that time of Ethiopians, including 
Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, in Mecca and other areas 
around the Red Sea, as well as the good relations between the 
early Arab Muslims and people in northeast Africa. 

Reasonably good ties continued after Muslir 
ties emerged in northeast Africa close to the Red Sea. Most of 
these communities lived in the lowland and eastern areas, but 
some spread into the mountainous region called Abyssinia, 
which was dominated by Aksum and then a series of other 
states that privileged Christianity and the Orthodox Church. 
Relations between the two faith communities worsened when 
these states, with their Christian and Solomonic ideology, 
expanded to the east in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; 
they executed many Muslims and forced the conversion of 
others. Muslims responded to this in the movement led by 
Ahmad ibn Cran, a cleric and warrior front the coastal region 
in the sixteenth century. This conflict, often characterized by 
the terms "crusade" and "jihad" in the registers of the two 
faiths, has often been taken as characteristic of Ethiopia and 
the Horn of Africa. Hostile confrontations have certainly 
occurred: for example, cases of forced conversion of Muslims 
by expansive Christian emperors in the late nineteenth cen- 
tury, or the conflict over the brief tenure of Lij Iyasu as 
Menilik's successor as emperor of Ethiopia between 1913 and 
1916. Lij Iyasu came from a family that included both 
Muslims and Christians, and he sought to bring some Mus- 
lims into positions in his briel government. lie failed because 
of his own inexperience, the strong Christian and church 
predilections of the court, and the conflict between the Axis 
and Allies during World War I. But Ethiopia's population 
today is close to 50 percent Muslim, and Muslims have been 

st with Christ 
it of the time. 

Gateways of Islam in Africa 

The History of Islam in Africa (2000) identifies two main 
"gateways" of Islamization in the continent. One is the East 
African coast, which became accessible to sailors and mer- 
chants coming down the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, just as 
it had been for previous centuries for Southeast Asians. The 
other is Egypt, and by extension the Maghreb and the Sahara. 

The first Muslims on the East African coast followed in 
the wake of a lot of other maritime travelers iron: tire Near 
East, South, and Southeast Asia. They used an old, well- 
tested technology of sailing close to the coast, down the Red 
Sea or the Persian Gulf, and then along the Indian Ocean. 
Prima rib Arab, they were interested in acquiring ivory, gold, 
other metals, leather goods, and some slaves. They interacted 
v, ith the fishing and agricultural peoples along the coast who 
spoke the language that today is called Swahili, which takes its 
name from the plural oisahil, and literally means "people of 
the coast." Over time, roughly the last one thousand years, 
the Swahili language evolved to include a considerable Arabic 
vocabulary, in addition to some Malay and other infusions, 
within a basic Bantu lexicon and language st 

The language was the basis for a culture, and both were 
built around small towns along the ocean, running about two 
thousand miles from Mogadishu in tire north (today's Somalia) 
to Sofala in the south ti I c tozambique). Most of the 
towns were autonomous city-states, confined essentially to 
islands or the coast, with very small hinterlands devoted to 
farming. The inhabitants of these city-states were committed 
to the vocations of agriculture, fishing, shipbuilding, and 
trade. They lived in the cosmopolitan world built around the 
Indian Ocean and practiced Islam, but acknowledged local 
gods and customs. The more wealthy Swahili oifen claimed 
paternal origins among the Arabs or Persians. They used 
Islamic forms in the architecture of their homes, as well as for 
mosques and other public buildings. .Mam of them fulfilled 
the pilgrimage obligation, which was easier to perform than 
from other parts of the African continent. 

The most prosperous period for the Swahili city-states ran 
roughly from 1250 to 1500 c.e. Larnu. located in an archipel 
ago along the northern coast of modern Kenya, Mombasa, a 
larger city on the southern coast, and Zanzibar, the island 
which forms part of Tanzania, were among the best-known 
and most active cities. The most prosperous was probably 
Kilwa, an island off the southern coast of hanzania. It was tied 
in to the interior trade, including the commerce in gold that 
tapped into the old Zimbabwe states. 

The main location of the Swahili language, culture, and 
people, and of the practice of Islam, w as concentrated on this 
East African littoral until very recent times. Most of the 

Islam penetration routes into Africa. XNR Productions, Inc./Gali 

Muslims were Sunni, but some belonged to the khariiile 
persuasion through their connections with Oman, a small 
state at the southeastern end of the Arabian peninsula. The 
literate elite, and especially the "professional" Muslims, un- 
derstood and wrote Arabic, but Islam was typically taught 
orally through Swahili explanations. The recourse to expla- 
nation in the local language was common practice through- 
out Africa and many parts of the Islamic world. Beginning 
about three hundred years ago some scholars and writers 
began to adapt the Arabic alphabet to the language, and 
thereby create a written or 'ajami literature alongside the 
older oral one. The written corpus contained the same 
stories, chronicles, and poetry as the one that had been 
transmitted orally down the generations. 

The Swahili Muslims did not emphasize the spread of 
Islam into the interior, by preaching, colonization, or the 
military jihad. They were generally content to practice their 
faith, ply their trades, and interact with the people of the 

: largely non -Muslim. The spread of Islam 
r, and of the Swahili language and culture, did 
not begin until the late eighteenth century, under the impetus 
of Omani Arabs, v, ho made Zanzibar their base. The Omani 
sultans controlled a significant portion of the Swahili region 
in what we could today call Tanzania and Kenya, primarily 
for commercial reasons. They continued to trade in ivory and 
gold, but now added a significant commerce in slaves. Some 
were sent to the Middle East and South Asia, while others 
were used at the coast to produce cloves and grain for export. 
The Zanzibari system resulted in more active contact be- 
tween coast and hinterland, and the spread of Islam and the 
Swahili culture to the entrepots and towns of the interior. 

These networks laid the basis for the widespread practice 
of Islam in East Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries. The main agents of islamization were merchants 
and teachers, not the reform-minded scholars who became so 
prominent in West Africa. The Omanis themselves were 

A mud brick mosque in Timbuktu, Mali, built in the European medieval period. Timbuktu was founded by a nomadic tribe called the Tuareg, 
who only kept loose control of it. Eventually, it became a part of the Muslim empire of Sudan, and functioned as a major trading post that 
connected North Africa with West Africa and thereby facilitated the spread of Islam. © Wolfgang Kaehler/Corbis 

Kharijites, but most of the older Swahili communities as well 
as many of the slaves were Sunni. Relations across these 
doctrinal lines were not difficult. The jihadic tradition re- 
mained a minor theme, except when it came to resistance to 

European domination. 

The "Egyptian" or North African gateway is usually 
emphasized in treatments of islamization in Africa. The 
Saharan region obviously marked the "entrance" to 
Saharan Africa. It was not an obstacle to trading caravans, but 
it was to armies. Indeed, there is only one example — the 
Moroccan expedition of 1591 — of a military force success- 
fully crossing the desert and winning \ itlories on the sout 
ern side. Arabs used die expression nihil or "coast" to apply to 
the two edges of the desert. The Arab and Berber Muslims of 
North Africa established networks of trade on both sides of 
the desert and rhythms of caravan trade that resembled the 
movement of ships along the Indian Ocean coast of East 
Africa. By 1000 it is possible to identifj indigenous as well as 
North African Muslim communities in the towns of West 
Africa connected to the trans-saharan trading networks. In 
> the pattern in East Africa, merchant capital 

became very important in the Saharan and sub-Saharan 
interior of West Africa from an early time, and for many 
the motor force of Islamic practice. 

North Africans often called sub Saharan Africa the Bilad 
al-Sudan, the "land of the blacks." Geographers and histori- 
ans have used this term and divided it i 
and eastern portions. The eastern or Nile s 
sponds to the modern nation of Sudan, while the v, 
portion corresponds to most of the West African Sahel. 


The greatest amount of literature about Islamic practice, 
generated by internal and external observers, deals with the 
West African region. Scholars have used this material to 
create a threefold pattern of islamization. Islam was first a 
minority religion, practiced essentially by traders; it then 
became the practice of Muslim courts; and finally, either by 
processes of military jihad or Sufi orders, or both, it became 
the practice of those living in the rural areas, farmers and 
pastoralists. It was at this point that it became the dominant 
religion, in the last two to three centuries. This formula can 
be useful, if it is applied selectively and discretely to the 

it parts of the Sahel and t( 

s further south in the 

The eastern Sudan or Sahel, what is called the Sudan 
today, is something of an exception to this rule. Adjacent to 
the Nile River, it lay along a natural axis of advance from 
Egypt lo the south. Eg} ptian travelers and armies, n hether in 
ancient or Islamic times, had often advanced up the Nile, 
and communities in the region sometimes returned the fa- 
vor. Once the Muslims had established control of Egypt, 
they confronted the Nubian kingdoms that had adopted 
Monophysite or Orthodox forms of Christianity as the state 
religion in earlier centuries. Muslims and Christians then 
worked out a pact, called baqt, by which the weaker Christian 
states paid a small tribute and allowed trade through their 
areas in exchange for noninterference in their affairs. This 
arrangement endured for several centuries. It was endan- 
gered by the limited participation of some Nubian armies in 
the European led Crusades ofthe tu elfth century, and finally 
ended by the Mamluks in the fifteenth century. After this 
period Arabic became the dominant language ofthe northern 
Nile valley and the lingua franca of the wider region. 

West African Patterns 

In the western and central Sudan the process was different. 
The early Muslim communities u ere merchants who lived in 
good relations with and on the sufferance of non-Muslim 
courts. These early Muslims were Arab and Berber but they 
were soon joined by Soninke, Mandinka, and other commu- 
nities of local origin. By the time of the empire of Mali (fl. 
1200-1400), some ruling classes had adopted Islam, although 
not necessarily to the exclusion of local or "ethnic" religious 
practices. Mali in particular is remembered for the pilgrimage 
of Mansa Musa in 1324 and for the visit that Ibn Battuta paid 
to the court of his brother and successor. Mansa Stilayman, in 
1352 and 1353. The court of the Songhay Empire (fl. c. 
1450-1591) is also remembered for adherence to Islam. 
Indeed, Askiya Muhammad (1493-1528) is remembered not 
just for his pilgrimage hut also for bis discussions with the 
famous jurisconsti It al A 1 aghili and for some serious efforts to 
spread the faith in the Niger Buckle (the area around Timbuktu 
and t cio) in the early years of his reign. The state of Bornu, in 
the area of Lake Chad in the central Sudan, is remembered 
for an early adoption of Islam at the court as well as for its 
longevity (about one thousand years, into the nineteenth 

In the last 250 years Islam has spread much more widely 
throughout northern Africa thanks to Sufi orders and reform 
movements. The oldest order was the Qadiriyya, but its 
network for some time consisted principally of an elite group 
of scholars across the Sudan, the Sahara, and North Africa. A 
Qadiriyya revival and spread in the late eighteenth century 
was followed by rivalry with the 1 ijaniyya and other orders 
with strong bases in North Africa and the Holy Cities. The 
competition increased in the nineteenth century, all across 

this belt, along the Swahili coast, and in the East African 
interior. Sufi practice was not challenged by reform move- 
ments, akin to the Salafiyya or the Wahhabiyya, until the 
mid-twentieth century. 

Indeed, Sufism was the principal \ elude by which Islamic 
practice spread from city to countryside in the Sudan or 
Sahel. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was 
accompanied by reform movements, led by scholars who 
increasingly complained ofthe lax, mixed, or corrupt practice 
ofthe faith in the cities, courts, and countryside. Increasingly 
these scholars, usually with Sufi affiliations of their own, 
resorted to th jihad of tin ord ml led military movements 
to replace the regimes that they criticized. The most success- 
ful of these movements, in terms of its breadth, depth, and 
literary heritage, was the one led by 'Uthman dan Fodio in 
I lausaland in the early nineteenth century. It resulted in the 
Sokoto Caliphate, a regime that dominated most of the 
northern part of Nigeria as well as the southern fringe of 
today's Niger. Many Muslims of northern Nigeria today see 
the caliphate as a kind of si >cial charter for the present da}' and 
have pushed for the establishment oishari'a (Islamic law). 

The strongest fusion of Sufi identity and militant reform 
came in the mid-nineteenth century with the mobilization led 
by Umar Tal, a scholar and pilgrim whose origins were in 
Senegal. Umar made the pilgrimage lo .Mecca, was initiated 
into the highest ranks ofthe Tijaniyya order by a Moroccan 
in Medina, and returned to West Africa in the 1830s to 
pursue a career of teaching and writing. In 1852, however, 
after some campaigns of recruitment, he launched a jihad of 
the sword against the non-Muslim states of the Upper and 
Middle Niger and the Upper Senegal Rivers. He particularly 
targeted the Bambara Kingdom of Segti, which he defeated in 
1 860 and 1 86 1 . He also had some encounters with the French 
and an expansive governor named Faidherbe in Senegal, and 
this has given him and his Tijaniyya affiliation an aura of 
resistance to European conquest. At the end of his life Umar 
attacked the Muslim state ofMasina oiTIamdullahi, princi- 
pally because of their aid for the •'pagan" Bambara of Segti. 
This conflict between two Muslim armies and communities, 
both of Pulaar or Fulbe culture, caused great consternation in 
the West African Islamic world. It also led to Umar's death in 
1864 and to the premature limitation ofthe ambitious move- 
ment that he launched. 

The greatest expansion of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa 
took place in the colonial period, particularly under the 
overrule of the British in Nigeria and the Sudan and the 
French through most ofthe < >ld u estern and central Sudan. In 
these instances Islam provided an alternative tradition to the 
secular or Christian identities ofthe rulers and the mission 
aries who typically accompanied them. It has often meant 
closer approximation to the styles of dress, architecture, and 
role:; of women characteristic of the Middle East. Europeans 
rulers, on the other hand, sought lo develop institutions and 

practices for dealing with their Muslim subjects. They co- 
opted portions of the Islamic legal and educational systems, 
tried to control the pilgrimage, and sought to create "colo- 

nial" forms of Islam. The best known creation was Ishini noir. 
the "black Islam," which was supposed to characterize French 
West Africa. The European colonial authorities often styled 
themselves as "Muslim powers" and made comparisons with 
practices in India. Indonesia, and other areas. 

By the time of independence in most sub-Saharan coun- 
tries in the 1960s, Muslim communities had established 
closer ties with the faithful in the Middle East, and particu- 
larly in Egypt and Saudi i Arabia. The centrality of these areas, 
combined with the pilgrimage and institutions such as Al- 
Azhar University, encouraged this process. At the same time 
the Arab Muslim communities made significant human and 
material investments in sub-Saharan Africa. This investment 
stimulated some criticism of Sufi and other African Muslim 
practices, particularly in the Sudan, Nigeria, and adjacent 
areas. In other regions the "Arab" and Saudi influence was 
not as pronounced, and patterns such as the "maraboutic" (a 
synonym for a cleric, derived from the term "almoravid") 
domination of Islam characteristic of Senegal were maintained. 

The Suwarian Pattern 

One of the most intriguing and original creations of Muslims 
in Africa is the Suwarian tradition. This term, coined by the 
historian Ivor Wilks, goes back to a certain Al-Hajj Salim 
Suwari, a learned cleric from the Middle Niger region who 
lived around 1500. The Suwarian tradition expresses the 
rationale used by Muslims who lived as minorities in "pagan" 
regions, particularly the communities of merchants who 
originally left the western Sudan for regions of woodland and 
forest to the south, in search of gold and other items of trade. 
This began in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when 
the Empire of Mali was at its height and sent out colonies of 
traders, juula, who retained their ties with the state, the 
A [andinka language, and their Muslim identity. It continued 
into the twentieth century. 

Juula came to be an ethnic, linguistic, and religious desig- 
nation for these people, who typically lived in demarcated 
neighborhoods within the main commercial towns and or- 
ganized trade between the forest areas of the south and the 
Sahel to the north. They left the realm of "politics" to their 
local hosts. They constituted a Muslim minority within a 
non-Muslim majority, corresponding to the first "phase" of 
islamization mentioned above. They worshiped, educated 
their children, distributed their property, and in almost every 
respect conducted their lives as n i mid Muslims anywhere in 
Africa or the rest of the world. They were no less learned nor 
pious than believers elsewhere, and they did not compromise 
their faith. But they could not afford to, and generally did not 
want to, change the religious identities of their hosts, who 
welcomed their presence and accorded them favors because 

of the prosperity they brought through trade. They were not 
about to try transforming the Dur til ktifr in \\ Inch they lived 
into a Dur ill hliim. 

Over time the juula colonics developed a theological 
rationale for their relations with non-Muslim ruling (lasses 
and subjects on the basis of the teachings of Suwari. He made 
the pilgrimage to Mecca several limes and devoted his intel 
lectual career to reflection upon the situation of Muslim 
minorities. Drawing upon 3 fiddle Eastern jurists and theolo 
gians, he reformulated the obligations of the faithful. A Ins 
lims must nurture their own learning and piety, and thereby 
furnish good examples to the noil Muslims who lived around 
them. They could accept the jurisdiction of non-Muslim 
authorities, as long as they had the necessary protection and 
conditions to practice the faith. In this position Suwari 
followed a strong predilection in Islamic thought for any 
government, albeit 11011 Muslim or tyrannical, as opposed to 
none. The military jihad « as a resort onlj i! the faithful were 
threatened. In essence, Suwari esteemed that God would 
bring non-Muslims to convert in His own time, and it was not 
the responsibility of the Muslim minorities to decide when 
ignorance or unbelief would give way to faith. 

In practice, of course, the Muslims and non-Muslims did 
not function in isolation. Across the many times and places of 
the woodlands and forest, the) were in constant contact with 
each other, and conceived of the relationship as two estates: 
the merchant estate, which was Muslim, and the ruling 
classes, which were "pagan" or at least "ignorant" from the 
standpoint of Islam. But the ruling classes typically esteemed 
the merchants and their religion, and sought the baraka or 
blessing that Muslims might bring to the political realm. This 
esteem was reflected in a number of ways, for example, in the 
demand for amulets produced by clerics for their "pagan" 
hosts. A British traveler in the early nineteenth century, 
Joseph Dupuis, gives an account of this demand in the 
Kingdom of Asante (today's Ghana) in his Journal of a 
Residence in . hhniitee: 

The talismanic charms fabricated In the Muslims, it is 
well known, are esteemed efficacious according to the 
various powers they are supposed to possess, and here 
is a source of great emolument, as the article is in public 
demand from the palace to the slave's hut; for every 
man (not by any means exempting the Muslims) wears 
them strung around the neck. . . . Some are accounted 
efficacious for the cure of gunshot wounds, others for 
the thrust or laceration of steel weapons, and the 
poisoned barbs of javelins, or arrows. Some, on the 
other hand, are esteemed to possess the virtue of 
rendering the wearer invulnerable in the field of battle, 
and hence are worn as a preservative against the casual- 
ties of war. 

Besides this class of charms, they ha\ e other cabalistic 
scraps for averting the evil of natural life: These may 

also be subdivided into separate classes; some, for 
instance, are specific nostrums in certain diseases of the 
human frame, some for their prevention, and some are 
calculated either to ward off any impending stroke of 
fortune, or to raise the proprietor to wealth, happiness 
and distinction. (London, 1824, 1966, appendix, pagexi) 

under increasing criticism in the last 1 

3 of reform and the closer integral 

is Africa wiih she Middle East. 

See n ho Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi; Ahmad Ibn Idris; 
Hajj Salim Suwari, al-; Suyut, al-; Tariqa; Zar. 

The relationship between leading merchants and rulers is 
captured well in another passage from the same author, in the 
same kingdom. Merchants, clerics, and rulers were all resi- 
dents of the same city, Kumasi, the capital of Asante. The 
speaker here is the head of the local Muslim community, and 
he talks of his role with the Muslim estaie. mainh through 
education, and his ties to the power s 

"When I was a young man," said the Bashaw (Pasha), "I 
worked for the good of my body. I traded on the face of 
God's earth, and traveled much. As my beard grew 
strong [I became older] 1 settled at Salgha [a trading 
center] and lastly removed to this city. I was still but an 
indifferent student [of Islam] when, God be praised, a 
certain teacher from the north was sent to me by a 
special direction, and, that learned saint taught me the 
truth. So that now my beard is white, and I cannot 
travel as before, [but] I am content to seek the good of 
my soul in a state of future reward. My avocations at 
Kumasi are several, but my chief employment is a 
school which I have endowed, and which I preside over 
myself. God has compassionated my labors [i.e., made 
them prosper], and I have about 70 pupils and converts 
at this time. 

Besides this, the » p. h irl i turned towards me, and 
I am a favored servant. Over the Muslims I rule asqadi, 
conformably to our law. I am also a member of the 
king's council in affairs relating to the believers of 
Sarem and Dagomba [areas to the north with signifi- 
cant Muslim populations]." (Dupuis, p. 97) 

The Suwarian tradition was a realistic rationale for Mus- 
lims living in the woodland and forest regions of Wesl Africa 
in the last five or six centuries. It suggests the kinds of 
positions which many Muslims throughout the world have 
taken when they found themselves in situations of inferior 
numbers and force, took advantage of their networks for 
trade, and enjoyed generally good relations with the local 
authorities because of the goods and prosperity that they 
could attract. 

Some Muslims have searched for wisdom and inspira- 
tion within African societies. They have established links 
with indigenous healing practices, divination systems, and 
cosmologies. They have created worlds of mediating spirits 
and possession cults, such as the bori of Hausaland or the 
gnasva of Morocco. These fused religious worlds have come 


Abun-Nasr, Jamil. The Tijaniyya. A Sufi Order in the Modern 

World. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1965. 
Brenner, Loin ' (/ ft.Ti lien i ' 

Spiritual Search of Cerno Bokar Saalifi Tall. London: 

Hurst, 1984. 
Brenner, Louis. I 1 u Pi < and 

Schooling in a West African Muslim Society. London: 

Hurst, 2001. 
Clarke, Peter. West Africa and Islam. London: Edward 

Arnold, 1982. 
Cooper, Barbara. Marriage in Maradi: (lender and Culture in a 

Hausa Society in Niger, 1 900 1 989. London: Heinemann 

and Currey, 1997. 
Cruise O'Brien, Donal. The Mourides of Senegal. Oxford, 

U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1971. 
Dupuis, Joseph. Journal of a Residence in Ashantee (1824). 

London: Frank Cass, 1966. 
Hiskett, Mervyn. The Development of Islam in West Africa. 

London: Longman, 1984. 
Last, D. Murray. The Sokoto Caliphate. London: Humanities 

Press, 1967. 
Levtzion, Nehernia, and Hopkins, J. F. P. Corpus of Early 

Arabic Sources for West African History. Cambridge, U.K.: 

Cambridge University Press, 1981. 
Levtzion. Nehernia, and Pouwels, Randall, eds. The History of 

Islam in Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2000. 
Mazrui, Ali, and Shariff, Ibrahim. The Sceahili: Idiom of an 

African People. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World History, 1994. 
Robinson, David. The Holy War of Umar Tal. The Western 

Sudan in the M id < eenti Ceutan l ford U.J () fan 

University Press, 1985. 
Robinson, D d. Pa / mo i \l 

French Colonial 1/ , < ml Mauritania, 1880 

to 1920. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2000. 

David Robinson 


Islam, an Afro-Asiatic faith, has long been known to be a 
religion of great synthesis that has interacted with local 
cultures, enriching them and being enriched by them. It has 
impacted on African society in various ways for almost a 

t longer, adding to the f 

Spread of Islam in Africa 

Islam made its presence felt in much of Africa (the East coast 
and Horn of Africa as well as West Africa) mainly through 
trade and migration. In West Africa, for instance, Islam was 
introduced from North Africa by the Berbers through the 
trans-Saharan trade as early as the ninth century. Later, 
trading networks developed among local African groups such 
as the Mande (Dyula/Wangara) whose area of operation 
spanned a wide area extending from as far west as Senegal to 
northern Nigeria in the easl. This trade network, or diaspora, 
was closely associated with the diffusion of Islamic studies, 
including mysticism in the later centuries, and enabled islam 
to penetrate peacefully beyond the Sahel — the semiarid re- 
gion of African between the Sahara and the savannahs — into 
the savannah area. In the coastal trading communities of East 
Africa the process of interaction between the Middle Eastern 
immigrants, mainh south Arabians, and the dominant Afri- 
can groups created a new urban ethos in which Islam blended 
with the indigenous local culture to produce Swahili Islam. 
The cross-cultural trade in many parts of Africa, apart from 
reinforcing cultural self identity and nurturing religious com 
mitment, fostered a pluralist structure in which commerce, 
Islam, and the indigenous system supported the urban net- 
work. In this way a balance was established between local 
ritual prescriptions and those of universal Islam. 

Islam in Africa therefore was primarily an urban religion 
(with an urban ethos) that fostered commitment to its relig- 
ious system ranging from ethnic self-identity to Islamic self 
identity, universal and transethnic in scope. Islamic penetra- 
tion in the rural areas, on the other hand, made piecemeal 
infiltration over a long period of time with significant gains 
awaiting a much later period. The religion therefore entered 
much of Africa peacefully through the agency of trade and 
later gained status after the migrant community (purveyors of 
the written word and the visual symbols of Islam) was inte- 
grated into the political setup before finally the ruling elite 
embraced the faith and appropriated its symbols for political 

The intensity of Islam a aried from one region of Africa to 
another and was influenced by a numbei of factors, including 
the length of interaction between islam and the traditional 

religion, the compatibility or incompatibility of the worldviews 
of the two religious systems, and the level of resilience of the 
indigenous integrative symbols to sustain traditional struc- 
tures of the local religion. Islam has its written scripture, a 
prescribed ritual, a historical and systematized myth, and a 
supra-ethnic religious identity. Its interaction with African 
traditional religions is therefore governed by the tension 
between its supra-ethnic universality of its ininiiii and lire 
etltnocentrism of African traditional religion. As Dean Cilland 

put it, for the African, the ethnic group is the matrix in which 
In eligion tal hap in u< inn if myth communicated, 
and a person's sacramental relation to nature experienced. 
This means that when the symbols of the ethnic group are 
challenged by a new system, recombination of old and new 
forms may appear to reorganize the group and to compensate 
for any loss. More specifically, becoming a Muslim and 
joining this universal umma involves offering prayers in a 
mosque frequented by members of other ethnic groups, 
adoption of Muslim behavior patterns and dress code in some 
cases, and using a certain language (e.g., for quite a long time 
Kiswahili in the case of East Africa! The Kmio Chronicle, a 
record of Hausa kings of sixteenth or seventeenth century 
inspiration first written down in the nineteenth century 
whose sources were largely oral, brings out clearly the strug- 
gle between the two religious systems, the Islamic and the 
traditional one, after the symbolic tree is cut down and a 
mosque built in its place. 

Indigenous Culture and Islam 

The old forms and symbols of the indigenous system are 
often not discarded but retrieved and reinforced and recast in 
a new form. In the artistic and architectural domains, for 
instance, there has been a unique blending of Islamic struc- 
ture and African representation. Once a balance had been 
reached between the local religions practices and the univer- 
sal ritual prescriptions of Islam the next step was to cast the 
imagery and iconography of African ancestral pillars, shrines. 
and so on into Islamized form. Where Islam was introduced 
such items as charms, amulets, certain types of clothing, and 
prestige goods were incorporated into local societies. More 
importantly, the local altar-shrine was transformed into the 
mosque in such a way that the physical configuration repre- 
sented a qualitative leap into verticality. Thus, as Labelle 
Prussin notes, the single, towering pyramidal earthen cone 
became the mihrab (it also served as a minaret) with its system 
of projecting wooden pi< I ei ; tending out of this massive 
structure. The ends of these wooden pickets served as a 
scaffold for workers to climb and repair the walls. The 
ancestral conical structure pillar (the Voltaic tradition) was 
now redirected to a new focal center, that of Mecca. In certain 
cases, as Prussin and Rene Bravmann have observed, some of 
the mosques thatwere built in Mali had mihrabs thai evoked 
the image of an African mask (which traditional!) represents 
powerful forces). This is how the mosques were constructed 
by the Mande of West Africa with Islam clearh inspiring the 
use of certain architectural features in the spatial configura- 
tion. The Islamic architectural tradition (mediated through 
the Maghrebian heritage) in turn inspired the architectural 
imagery or style represented by the thatched domes of the 
Senegal Guinea area for mosques and maraboruic (referring 
to a Muslim scholar or saint in North Africa or parts of West 
Africa) shrines following the example of the domed cities of 
Tripoli and Cairo. Islamic type designs were also emulated 
and led to the adoption of arabesque wall patterning instead 

\ mud brick mosque 

of the attached African charms. This calligraphy allowed for a 
new system of spatial organization. More than this, Islamic 
script was used in decorative ways even in non-Muslim areas 
such as modern day ( Jhana, where in the nineteenth century 
the Asantehene, head of the Asante confederacy, wore clothes 
with Arabic writing in various colors. Islam had clearly 
filtered through Asante politicoreligious structure such that 
both in terms of ideas and in the realm of the arts it pro\ ided a 
medium through which the ideology of the Asante was 

Islam, which for many centuries ci >existed well with tradi- 
tional African religion, gradually over time attempted to 
replace it as the dominant faith of some regions without 
major clashes. What made this possible was the fact that the 
Islamic faith was much more adaptable in Africa with very 
minim a 1 requirements for new members who at the very least 
were expected to change their names after reciting the testi- 
mony of faith. The observance of Islamic duties along with 
the understanding of the faith were supposed to follow later. 
For the first generation of Muslims, introduction to Islamic 
cultural values was what came first whereas Islarnization itself 
could take generations to realize. At this level there was 
accommodation to social and political structures of authority. 

This was the period when the learned Muslims, as in West 
African kingdoms, played a key role in administration and 
diplomacy. Eventually, however, a number of these African 
rulers adopted Islam and in doing so may partly have under- 
mined the basis of their legitimacy as guardians of African 
ancestral religious traditions. Nevertheless, they did not 
completely renounce ties with the African traditional relig- 
ion, which continued to be the religion of many of their 
subjects. This arrangement assisted in maintaining order 
although it did not please some West African Sufi leaders of 
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who launched their 
jihads (reform movements) of Islamic revivalism (some of 
which had mahdist/messianic overtones) to establish Islamic 
states. The theme of Islamic revivalism v ill be discussed later. 


Colonialism facilitated the growth of Islam in areas of Africa 
as far apart as Tanzania (Tanganyika) in East Africa and 
Senegal in West Africa through the activities of Muslim 
brotherhoods (Sufi orders), traders, and others. For some 
African groups the loss of power with the onset of colonial 
rule made them gravitate tow ard Islam, u Inch was seen as an 
alternative to the prevailing colonial order. The difficulties of 
a new life under the colonial system, which uprooted the 
African from his traditional universe, presented Islam with an 
opportunity to provide a new framework as meaningful and 
all-embracing as the old African one. This, for instance, 
happened with Amadou Bamba's Murid brotherhood in 
Senegal, which converted thousands of people whose earthly 
kingdoms had been destroyed by colonialism. In 1888Bamba 
established Touba/Tubaa as a great holy city (some say) to 
rival Mecca, and he was buried there in 1927. Every year 
hundreds of thousands of his followers visit his tomb on the 
anniversary of his death. For the uprooted African who joined 
the faith, the Muslim supra-ethnic minim provided a solidar- 
ity and a sense of belonging not very different from that of the 
African village/ethnic one. Moreover, while the Islamic pre 
scriptions replaced the indigenous ones, in matters of wor- 
ship, however, the Muslim ritual prayer did not completely 
dislodge the traditional rituals of seeking to appease the 
ancestors. In fact, the Muslim religious leaders and teachers 
came to perform the same kind of role as the African healers 
and medicine men in curving out the domain of popular 

Indigenization of Islam 

Yet, despite Muslim efforts to purge African elements from 
their faith, their religion continued to display a level of 
"Airicanness" that revealed the indigenization of Islam in 
these regions of West Africa. How else would one explain the 
continued presence of, for instance, the bori cult in northern 
Nigeria? There, women tend to follow the traditional cults 
even with the sustained impact of Islam in Hausaland for 
centuries, including producing such well known major relig- 
ious Fulani reformers of the nineteenth century such as 

Shaykh ! I 'thman dan Fodio? There must be a level of affinity 
between the two religious systems that allows this to happen. 
For instance, the belief in mystical powers (/'/'/////invisible 
supernatural creatures) allows Islam to be accommodated to 
the African spirit world that is so important to understanding 
the African religious universe. In fact, the ancestral beliefs 
have been recombined with Muslim practice to form a new 
"folk" religion with emphasis on, say, saint veneration (v, Inch 
popular Islam and Suiisrn reinforce) that approximates local 

The practice of curing illnesses attributed to occult forces 
provided an opportunity for the Muslim healing system to 
flourish and allowed for the services of Muslim healers/holy 

men (who provided additional heading choices to local pracli 
tioners) to be in high demand. The appearance of new 
epidemic disc e i h m llpo nd cholera, which arose 
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in hinterland East 
Africa (and which the local people could not adequately deal 
with), led the people to turn increasingly to the Muslim 
healing system. Muslim prayers and amulets were more 
popular than Muslim secular remedies in this atmosphere of 
suspicion (which took the form of sorcery and witchcraft 
accusations). Apart from the fact that Muslim amulets were 
believed to embody the words of the Supreme Being and not 
that of the intermediary powers (making them therefore 
more potent, as the Asante believed), Muslim literacy played 
a role as a potential source of healing. Furthermore, Sufi 
masters who had attained a closeness to Cod through follow 
ing the path of spiritual enlightenment were belies ed to have 
special powers that made their prayers efficacious. This 
btirnkti (blessing power that heals) was passed on in families 
and explains why the scholarly Sufi lineages of the Sahara 
have played a pivotal role in mediating Islam between North 
and West Africa. 

While the influence of the tariqa (Sufi orders) has been 
undermined to some extent in some parts of Africa such as 
Tanzania, the commitment to Su fistic engagement with faith 
nevertheless continues to be strong in West Africa and 
especially in Senegal, although even there it is facing the 
challenge of the Salafi reformers. Sufism, far from being a 
predominantly rural phenomenon that would fade away as 
Muslim societies became increasingly modernized, has con- 
tinued to thrive and to engage African Muslims of the urban 
centers as well. Yet for some educated young African A lusli in s 
who are discomfited by magical practices, saint veneration, 
hierarchy, and the authoritarianism of some Sufi orders, the 
Salafi message has seemed a 

The Salafi reform is itself at some level quite c 
and traditional; to the extent that this is true, Salafi reform 
and Sufi traditionalism are constantly engaged in an overlap- 
ping movement of interaction. Will they creatively synthe 
size from the values of their common Islamic heritage while 

acknowledging the entanglements and crea 
between and within cultures? It remains to be seen what the 
outcome of this clash will be. It is clear though that underly- 
ing the conflict between them are struggles for power and 
control of the Muslim community In these competing groups. 

Gender and Islam in Africa 

What u pe of cultural interface has taken place between Islam 
and Africa in the area of gender relations? More specifically, 
what has been the role oflslam with respect to the status of 
women in the regions of Africa where Islam has been intro- 
duced? Did Islam introduce patriarchy in Africa? Many 
African societies were patriarchal (polygamous as well) even 
before their encounter with Islam. Nevertheless, where Islam 
was introduced and its values incorporated in the socioeco- 
nomic and political structures of these societies (especially 
those with a propensity for state/empire building) a hierar- 
chical social organization resulted in which there were clear 
demarcations of male and female spheres of activity. This, of 
course, did vary from society to society. For instance, the 
Yoruba women of southwestern Nigeria continued to be 
market women even after the coming oflslam whereas their 
Hausa counterparts in northern Nigeria tended to lead more 
secluded lives. It is significant to note that the Alahdiyya 
movement, which was established in 1941 in Ijebul-Ode in 
southern Nigeria by the southern Muslim scholar, Muham- 
mad Jumat Imam, emphasized the education ofwomen, their 
attendance of mosques together with men, and their inclu- 
sion in public affairs (hence no Quranic basis for the practice 
of ' fmnhih. or female seclusion. Byway of comparison, among 
the Tuareg-Berbers of the Sahara (who tend to be matriar- 
chal) their unveiled women continued to enjoy far more 
freedom of movement than their Arab counterparts in 
North Africa. 

The Sufi dhikr (chant) practices and the spirit possession 
cults {bori among llansas in West Africa and zar in Ethiopia 
and Sudan) have offered women possibilities for autonomous 
spiritual expression and for creation of networks of mutual 
support Alysticisrn in particular has opened the room for the 
acceptance of female authority (for instance, Sokna Magat 
Diop of theAlurids) or religious leadership located within the 
female realm. Moreover, the Qadiriyya order accepted the 
female leadership of Shaykha Binti Mtumwa (a former slave 
or person of low status) who founded a branch of the order in 
Malawi and, w as successful in attract ing many women. There- 
fore, both possession cults and Sufi brotherhoods have al- 
lowed women to establish a sphere of action in hierarchical 
societies where control of the state is a male domain. These 
orders have incorporated women in both East and West 
Africa, especially in the area of education, fund raising, and 
the like, although women have a much larger scope in Senegal 
than in Nigeria in leadership of brotherhoods. 

During the period of economic hardships in the last 

weral decades, issues of cultural aulhenlicirj have become 

rooted in Islamic identity in opposition to what has been 
perceived as Western cultural domination. These women 
reject Western feminism, which they see as an extension of 
Western cultural domination worldwide, a domination that 
makes Western values and ideas lie the normative values that 
everyone else should strive for. The role of these women has 
expanded as liberalization of the political process and the 
emergence of multiparty politics have led them to establish 
organizations and to embrace a particular agenda, including 
the Muslim dress code, and involvement in cultural politics. 
The Islamists and radical reformist activists are engaged in 
contesting existing gender relations and social justice. They 
use the text (scripture) as their framework whereas the secular 
activists' frame of reference is based on certain abstract 
concepts such as egalitarianism, humanism, human rights, 
and pluralism, concepts that have emerged from Western 
discourses on the subject. 

The roles of men and women are constantly changing due 
to urbanization, education, and cross-cultural contacts. For 
some women these changes have generated new freedom and 
opportunities for self-improvement. 

Islamic Law and Politics 

As a political force, Islam united much of Africa in the past 
and was willing to accommodate local (including legal) prac- 
tices. Nevertheless, as the level of Islamization deepened the 
learned Muslim scholars began to call for a strict interpreta- 
tion of the shun' a (Islamic law), which they saw as different 
from the African legal or customary practices. Some obvious 
areas of difference included, for instance. Islamic emphasis on 
individual ownership of land (and property inheritance through 
the male side of the family) whereas in various African 
societies land belonged to the community. Also, the way 
Islamic law was interpreted (some have suggested) tended to 
give men considerably more power over property matters 
than perhaps was the case in some African societies. Scholars, 
however, need comparative data across a number of African 
societies to make a meaningful comparison. 

Unlike African customary law , which is unw rilten, Islam it- 
law (which covers both public and private life) is written and 
provides an extensive framework within which Muslim ijiidh 
(judges) analyze legal issues and deduce new laws to handle 
new situations in the urn ma. Islamic law emphasizes the rights 
or obligations of indh iduals whereas African customan law 
(in which economic and social relations, especially in "state- 
less" societies, were regulated by customs maintained by 
social pressure and the authority of elders) is based on kinship 
ties in matters of marriage and property. It extends to com- 
mercial and criminal law and also has rules regarding the 
conduct of political leaders or those entrusted with authority. 
In their encounter with other legal systems European colo- 
nial powers left these systems functioning in some societies 
(for instance, Sudan and Nigeria as part of the Britain's self- 
serving policy of indirect rule) while in others they allowed 

Muslim judges to apply Islamic ch il .\x\A family law except in 
criminal matters, w Inch were tried by European courts. In the 
postcolonial period the scope of Islamic law, where it is 
applied, is limited to religious issues and civil cases; the 
modern trend, with its emphasis on equal rights of citizens, is 
to have laws that apph across die hoard without recognizing 
any distinctions based on religion or gender. 

Recognition of Islamic laws in many African states after 
independence has created tensions and political controversy 
especially when the secular elites have sought to forge a 
uniform system of law or at least have attempted to modify 
Muslim personal law (in aspects such as marriage for girls) to 
bring it in line with the inherited Western law and African 
customary practices. There has been a wide variety of re- 
sponses to the dilemma of how much scope to give to 
religions law s. Mozambique, for instance, has made attempts 
to recognize traditional and religious marriages (thus doing 
the basic minimum) whereas Sudan has made shari'a the law 
of the land. The call by Muslim groups in northern Nigeria 
for nationalization of Islamic law (to apply beyond northern 
Nigeria) has unleashed the shari'a debate, a source of tension 
in national politics in a country where at the very least only 
half or slightly more than half the population is Muslim. h\ 
African Muslim societies in general, however, it has been 
noted that there is often an antislale discourse underlying she 
call for Islamic law by Muslim groups, which seek to foster 
their religious and cultural autonomy in societies (with Sailed 
political institutions and secular ideologies such as socialism) 
in which state and secular institutions have failed to respond 
to their needs. 

Coexistence of Islam and African Religion 

The coexistence of Islam and African traditional religion has 
cultural and linguistic implications as well. The Arabic lan- 
guage has provided -abstract concepts, particularh religious 
ones, that reveal Islamic modes of thought and expression. 
Islamic influence is, in fact, revealed both at the explicit and 
suggestive levels in languages as different as the Berber 
dialects, Ilausa, Swahili, and Somali to name just a lew . These 
languages have absorbed the Islamic worldview (though at 
some level languages such as Swahili ha\ e been progressively 
secularized over time during and alter the colonial period, 
making them more neutral). 

Islamic culture has generally held the w rilten word in such 
high esteem that wherever Islam has reached in Africa ver- 
sions of its script have been adopted in those regions of 
sustained contact. Moreover, Islamic penetration of Africa 
introduced Arabic as the language of religious discourse 
among scholars, official correspondence between Islamized 
states, and historical writing during the period of the Muslim 
kingdoms. Good examples of important records that were 
produced by Timbuktu scholars were the monumental Tarikh 
al V, stash and Tarikh al Sudan. Both East and West Africa 

Aga Khan 

have also produced Afro Islamic literature (from the panegyrics 
of the Prophet to poetry) based on the local languages, u inch 
have absorbed a lot of Arabic loanwords in the spheres of 
religion, politics, and commerce. In some of these areas, 
however, the written word, has competed with the oral litera- 
ture especially among such clan-based people as the Somali. 

In the linguistic dimension it is often assumed that when 
Arabic and an African language such as Swahili, Berber, 
Hausa, Fulani, I larari, Somali, and others come into contact 
the latter will invariably be influenced by the former. It is, of 
course, undeniable that as a result of contact with Arabic 
these languages (which are related in their ethos to Arabic) 
have absorbed many Arabic loanwords. In fact, some had in 
the past a written tradition in Arabic script. Nevertheless, 
there is an tin lated , nmplion thai these languages have 
borrowed from Arabic rather passively without contributing 
anything back This may explain the fact that v, hile there are a 
number of studies that trace Arabic loanwords in various 
African languages, fewer comparable studies, if any, have 
been undertake!! to study, say, the influence of Swahili on the 
Arabic dialects spoken in ( )man or south Yemen (Iladhrarnaut). 
This influence should be expected given that the Red Sea 
separates the Arabian peninsula from Africa and this proxim 
ity resulted in a profound interaction in a number of spheres. 
The Arabs, by their ow n tradition, recognize African ancestry 
through Ishmael's mothei Ilaggar, who was Egyptian. Also, 
Arabs recognize the active presence of Africans in the evolu- 
tion of pre-Islamic Arabic culture and the important role that 
Ethiopia -jak'i Ethiopians played in the early histon of Islam. 

How will both Islam and African indigenous traditions 
fare in the twenty-first century in the era of globalization? 
Can both systems penetrate Western secular culture, whose 

ecular in tiltitions and ideologit have not (urn tioned - ell in 
Africa? .ire African religions traditions destined to die out as 
socioeconomic changes (not to mention the colonial experi 
ence) have disrupted the cultural nexus in which these tradi- 
tions have thrived? This is rather unlikely as African indigenous 
cultures have demonstrated much resilience even as their 
followers enter the fold of either Islam or Christianity (Ali 
Mazrui's triple heritage) and the African ancestors are poised 
to raise their heads once again in the synthetic and syncretic 
religious uni\ erse. With one quarter of the world's 1.2 billion 
Muslims living in Africa (making Muslims, half the conti- 
nent's population, the most numerous followers of any relig- 
ion) the final chapter of the unfolding global resurgent Islam 

See ii/sn Africa, Islam in; Bamba, Ahmad; Timbuktu; 
Touba; Zar. 


Bravmann, Rene A. African Islam. Washington, D.C.: The 
Smithsonian Institution, 1983. 

Chande, Abdin. "Radicalism and Reform in East Africa." 
In The History of Islam in Africa. Edited by Randall Pouwels 
and Nehemia Levitzion. Athens: Ohio University 
Press, 2000. 

Clark, Peter. West Africa and Islam. London: Edward Arnold 
Ltd., 1982. 

Dunbar, Roberta Ann. "Muslim Women in African His 
tory." In The History of Islam in . Ifrica. Edited by Randall 
Pouwels and Nehemia Levitzion. Athens: Ohio Univer- 
sity Press, 2000. 

1 .id ind, Dean ! Ifn < I i < M Islam: Re I ins ( > 
in Northern Niger/,:. Lanharn, Md.: University Press of 
America, 1986. 

Harrow, Kenneth, ed. Faces of Islam in Africa! Literature. 
Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1991. 

Owusu Ansali, David. Is/a I ' i 

teenth Century Asante. Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 1991. 

Pouwels, Randall, and Levitzion, Nehemia, eds. The History 
of Islam in Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2000. 

Pouwels, Randall. Horn and Crescent. Cambridge, U.K.: Cam- 
bridge University Press, 1987. 

Prussin, Labelle. Hatiniiere: Islamic Design in West Africa. 
Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California 
Press, 1986. 

Sanneh, Lamin. Piety and Power. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis 
Books, 1996. 

Westerlund, David, and Rosander, Eva Evers, eds. African 
Islam and Islam in . Ifrica: Encounters between Sufis and 
Islamists. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1997. 


Aga Khan is the title inherited by the modern imams of the 
Shi'a Nizari Isma'ili Muslims. The title was first granted by 
the Iranian ruler Fath c Ali Shah to Imam Hasan c Ali Shah 
(1804-1881), who also served as governor of Qum, Mahallat, 
and Kirman. Forced to leave Iran, he settled eventually in 
British-ruled India. His son, Shah Ali Shah, Aga Khan II 
(1830-1835), was imam for four years and was succeeded 
after his death by his eight-year-old son who became well 
known internationally as Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga 
Khan III (1877-1957). He guided the community into the 
twentieth century by locating social welfare, educational, 
economic, and religious institutions within the framework of 
a structured community constitution to promote better or- 
ganization and governance. His leadership played a crucial 
role in enabling the community, some ofn hose members had 
migrated from India to Africa, to adapt successfully to histoid 
cal change and modernity. 

In addition to his responsibilities as imam and spiritual 

leader for the welfare of his followers, Aga Khan III played an 

Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan, known as Aga Khan III, 
became the leader of the Shi c a Nizan Isma'ili Muslims of India in 
the late nineteenth century at the age of eight. As the Indian 
subcontinent evolved politically in the beginning of the twentieth 
century, Aga Khan spoke out for education, social change, and 
women's rights. Library of Congress, The 

important role as a statesman in international and Muslim 
affairs. He was president of the League of Nations from 1937 
to 1938 and also played an important role in the political 
evolution of the Indian subcontinent. Deeply committed to 
social reform and education among Muslims of Africa and 
Asia he assisted in the creation of several institutions such as 
schools, hospitals, and the East African Muslim Welfare 
Society. He was also an eloquent advocate for the education 
of women and the advancement of their si icial and public role. 
In addition to other writings and speeches, he wrote two 
bool ' / / in/ 191 I i 1 in ' / „ ', (1954) lie 

died in 1957 and is buried in Aswan, Egypt. 

Aga Khan IV, Shah Karim al-Husayni, was born in 1936 
and was educated in Europe and at Harvard University. 
During his leadership, a worldwide community emerged 
successfully through complex and turbulent changes. The 
Ismailis, who live in some thirty countries and represent 

cultural and geographical dh ersily, acknowledge the spiritual 
authority of the imam and have responded actively to his 
guidance. This has enabled them to build further on inherited 
institutions and to create common purpose in their endeavors 

through well coordinated local, national, and international 

Aga Khan IV also created the Aga Khan Development 
Network, to promote a humanitarian, intellectual, and social 
\ ision ol islam and tradition of service to society. Its interna- 
tional activities have earned an enviable reputation for their 
commitment to the development of societies, without bias to 
national or religious affiliation, and to the promotion of 
culture as a key resource and enabling factor in human and 
social development. The Award for Architecture and the 
Trust for Culture promote concern and awareness of the 
built environment, and cultural arid historical preservation. 
Various institutions of higher education, such as the Aga 
Khan University, Central Asian ( "im ersity, and the Institute 
of Ismaili Studies promote scholarship and training in a u ide 
variety of fields. 

The Aga Khan's leadership and \ 

3 be 

reflected in the increasingly significant global impact that 
these community institutions and the network are having in 
the fields of social, educational, economic, and cultural 

See also Khojas; Nizari. 


Aziz, Iv. Iv., ed. .](;'// Khun III: Selected Speeches i/i/d II 'rhinos. 

London: Kegan Paul International, 1998. 
Daftary, Farhad. The Isniriilis: Their llistoiy rind Doctrines. 

Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press, 1990. 

Azim Nanji 


AM al-bayt, or "people of the house," is a phrase used with 
reference to the family of the prophet Muhammad, particu- 
larly by the Shi'a. In early Arabian tribal society, it was a 
designation for a noble clan. It occurs only twice in the 
Qur'an, once in regard to Ibrahim's family (1 1:73), but more 
significantly in a verse that states, "God only wishes to keep 
uncleaness away from you, O people of the house, and to 
purifyyou completely" (33:33). The context suggests that this 
statement pertains to women in Muhammad's household, a 
view held by Sunni commentators. Some authorities have 
applied it more widely to descendants ol Muhammad's clan 
(Banu Hashim), the Abbasids, and even the whole community 
ol.Mu.dims. Since the eighth century ce., however, the Shi'a 

and many Sunnis have maintained that Qur'an 33:33 refers 
specifically to five people: Muhammad, Ah b. Abi Talib 
(Muhammad's cousin), 'Ali's wife Fatima (Muhammad's 
daughter), and their two children, Hasan and Husayn. Ulema 
invoke hadiths in support of this view, as seen in Tabari's 
Jami' al-bayan (c. tenth century c.e.). Thus, in South Asia, 
they are called "the five pure ones" (panjatan pak). They are 
also known as "people of the mantle" (kisa') in remembrance 
of the occasion when the Prophet enveloped them with his 
mantle and recited this verse. 

Belief in the supermundane qualities of the ahl abb ay t and 
the imams descended from them form the core of Shi'ite 
devotion. They are the ideal locus of authority and salvation 
in all things, both v. orldly and spiritual. As pure, sinless, and 
embodiments of divine wisdom, they are held to be the 
perfect leaders lor die Muslim community, as well as models 
lor moral action. Many beliet e that die; possess a divine light 
through which God created the universe, and that it is only 
through their living presence that the world exists. Twelver 
Shi'ite doctrine has emphasized that die [lain ami mam rdorn 
endured by ahl al-bayt, particularly by Husayn, hold redemp- 
tive power for those who have faith in them and empathize 
with their suffering. Moreover, they anticipate die messianic 
return of the Twelfth Imam at the end of time, and the 
intercession of die hoh family on the day of judgment. 
During the middle ages. Nizari tsama ili da'is in northern 
India even identified the ahl id buyt with Hindu gods (Brahma, 
Vishnu, Kalki, Shiva, and the goddess Shakli)and the Pandavas, 
the five heroes of the M mbh ita epic. The Shi'ite ritual 
calendar is distinguished by holidays commemorating events 
in the lives of the holy family, and it is common for the "hand 
of Fatima," inscribed with their five names, to be displayed in 
processions and to be used as a talisman. 

Sunnis also revere the ahl al-bayt, attributing to them 
many of the sacred qualities that the Shi'a do. This is 
especially so in Sufi tariqas (brotherhoods), most of which 
trace their spiritual lineage to Muhammad through Ali. 
Several tariqas hold special veneration for the holy five and 
the imams, such as the Khalwatiyya, the Bektashiyya, and the 
Safawiyya, which established the Safavid dynasty in Iran 
(1502-1722). In many Muslim communities, high social 
status is attributed to those claiming to he sayy'uh and sbarifs, 
bio nl d nil nils of th / ' \>t. Indeed, rnai \ I i [in 
scholars and saints are members of these two groups, and 
their tombs often become pilgrimage centers. 

Although the Saudi-Wahhabi conquest of Arabia (nine- 
teenth to early twentieth centuries) led to the destruction of 
many///?//// h/yf shrines (including Fatima "s tomb in Medina i. 
elsewhere their shrines have attracted large numbers of pil- 
grims in modern times. These include those of c Ali (Najaf, 
Iraq), Husayn (Karbala, Iraq and Cairo, Egypt), 'Ali al-Rida 
(the eighth imam; Mashhad, Iran), and also of women saints 

such as Sayyida Zaynab (Ali's daughter; Cairo) and Fatima 
al-Ma'suma (daughter of the seventh imam; Qom, Iran). 
Nizari Isma'ilis (Khojas) make pilgrimages to their living 
imam, the Aga Khan, also a direct descendent of the Prophet's 


Contemporary heads of state in several Muslin 
have claimed blood descent from the lamih of the Prophet Lo 
obtain religious legitimacy for their ride: the Alawid dynasty 
of Morocco (1631-present), Hashimite dynasty of Iraq 
(1921-1958) and of Jordan (1923-present), and many of the 
ruling mullahs in Iran, including die A) atollah Khomeini (r. 
1979M989), whose tomb has become a popular Iranian 
Shi'ite shrine. Even former President Saddam 1 lusayn of Iraq 
(r. 1979-2003) has claimed descent from ahl al-bayt. 

Sec also Hadith; Imam; Imamate; Karbala; Mahdi; Sayyid; 
Sharif; Shi'a: Imami (Twelver); Shi'a: Isma'ili. 


Ayoub, Mahmoud. Redci , I) Lin/// I Study of 

the Devotional Aspects of 'Ashura in Twelver Shi'ism. The 
Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1978. 

Hoffman-Ladd, Valerie J. "Devotion to the Prophet and His 

Family in Egypt l in uii n / d Journal of Mid- 

dle East Studies 24 (1992): 615-637. 
mi I, Vernon James. R i / r / 

vary Islam Shi'i D w Hi I bA Columbia 

University of South Carolina Press, 1993. 

Jutm Eduardo C/m/po 


The Ahl-e Hadis emerged as a distinctive orientation among 
Indian ulema in the late-nineteenth-century milieu of re- 
formist thought, publication, debate, and internal proselytiz- 
ing. Like other reformers, they fostered devotion to the 
prophet Muhammad and fidelity to sbtiri a. Unlike them, they 
opposed jurisprudential taqlid (imitation) of the classic law 
schools in favor of direct use of hadith. The) alsi i < >pp< ised the 
entire institution of Suiisrn, a stance that further marginalized 
them. Like the Deobandis, they claimed to be heirs of Shah 
Wali Allah (d. 1763), and they encouraged simplification of 
ceremony and the practice of widow remarriage. Their prac- 
tices in the canonical prayer (including uttering "amen" aloud 
and lifting their hands at the time of bowing) led to conflicts 
ultimately settled in British courts. 

Core supporters of the Ahl-e Hadis came from educated 

and often well horn backgrounds. Cosmopolitan in orienla 
lion, lhe;\ identified themselves with similar groups in Afghani 
stan and Arabia. Within India, they turned to princes for 

support, most lamoush w ith the marriage ofMaulana Siddiq 
Hasan Khan (1832-1890) to the ruling Begum of Bhopal. 
Siddiq Hasan supported the classic interpretations of jihad, 
without the apologetic "losses of the day. Despite his « tiling 
to the contrary, he was suspected of disloyalty, as was another 
major figure in the movement, Sayyid Nazir Husain (d. 
1902), w ho was briefly arrested as a "Wahhabi,'" as supporters 
of the Arab Muhammad Abd al Wahhab (1703-1792) were 
called. Suspicion of the Ahl-e Hadis abated bj 1889, marked 
by the success of a campaign to drop the word "Wahhabi" in 
official British colonial correspondence. 

The armed Lashkar-e Tayyiba, affiliated with the Ahl-e 
Hadis in Pakistan, is alleged to have been active both within 
Pakistan and Kashmir since the 1990s. 

See also Deoband; Fundamentalism. 


deli If, Barbara Daly, iv ' ' British L D I 

1860-1900. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University 
Press, 1982. 

Saeedullah. The Lif < i , '/ > i ' 

Khan, Ncno-wab of Bhopal. Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muham- 
mad Ashraf, 1973. 

Barbara D. Metcalf 

their refusal to recant their beliefs in the eternal nature of the 
Qur'an. After the Mihna, the Ahl al-Hadith led an anti- 
rationalist movement that forced advocates of rationalist 
thought underground. In the centuries following the initial 
triumph of the Ahl al-Hadith, a middle ground emerged that 
placed greater emphasis on a combination of reason and 
tradition. The Ahl al lladith formed a school of legal thought 
named after Ahmad Ibn Hanbal that continued to pursue 
legal methods dial focused lesson uses of reason and more on 
tradition. The Hanbali fixation on tradition led to a series of 
reform movements that have sought to "revive" the moral 
and ethical standards of the first generations oi Muslims. The 
contemporary influence of Ahl al lladith ideology continues 
to be important for a number of diverse groups. Organiza- 
tions such as the Indonesian Miiharnmadiyah and the Islamic 
Society of North America, as well as the violent al-Qa'ida and 
Islamic jihad, each bases its ideologies on ideas thai emerged 
out of the Ahl al-Hadith and Hanbali movement over the last 

See also Ibn Hanbal; Kalam; Mu'tazilites, Mu'tazila; 


Hallaq, Wael. A History of Islamic Law and Legal Theories. 

Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 
Schacht, Joseph. The Origins oj ' Mahaiiniiadan Jurisprudence. 

Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1950. 


R. Kevin Jaques 

The Ahl al-Hadith (people of the traditions) appear to have 
developed out of a pious reaction to the a 
Caliph Yazid b. Walid (d. 744). Prior to Yazid's 
scholars who emphasized hadilh (traditions of the prophet 
Muhammad) as die primary source for interpreting the Will 
of God were disorganized and (airly removed from the 
widespread emphasis on apph ing varying levels of reason to 
the Qur'an. Yazid's assassination was interpreted by more 
conservative groups as a revolution against the predestined 
plan of God. Whether or not the early Ahl al-Hadith were 
aligned with the Umayyad caliphate, as were many of the 
Jabriyya (advocates of predestination), it is clear that many 
understood Yazid's assassination as a sign of the general decay 
of the Muslim communiu , the blame f< >r which they assigned 
to the uncontrolled use of personal opinion by the Ahl al-Ra'y 
(people of considered opinion). After die Abbasid revolution 
(c. 720-750), the Ahl al-Hadith developed into the main 
group opposed to the dominance of the rationalist theology 
of the Mu'tazilites. During the religious inquisition or Mihna 
(833-850) many of the Ahl al-Hadith were imprisoned for 
refusing to agree to the doctrine of the Created Qur'an. 
Members of the Ahl al lladith, such as Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d. 
855), became important religious and social leaders due to 


The term ahl al-kitab, or people of the book, refers to 
followers of scripture-possessing religions that predate the 
Qur'an, most often Jews and Christians. In some situations 
other religious groups, such as Zoroastrians and Hindus, have 
been considered to be people of the book. Some Qur'anic 
verses also reference the Sabeans, who are usually understood 
to be one of several gnostic Judeo-Christian sects such as the 
Mandeans, the Elchasaites, or Archontics. Muslims recog- 
nize the holy books possessed by the Jews (al-Tawrah: Torah; 
al Zabur: Psalms) and Christians (al lujil: Gospel) as legiti 
mate revelations. However, they believe that some portions 
of these scriptures were abrogated and superceded by the 
Qur'an and the Christians and Jews corrupted others. 

The Qur'an provides an ambivalent picture of the people 
of the book, sometimes praising and sometimes condemning 
them. Muslims are said to worship the same God as the 
people of the book, who were likewise honored with divine 
revelations (Q 2:62). However, the people of the book are 
ed lor certain faults ami sometimes referred to as 

unbelievers (Q 5:18, 9:29-35). These differences in tone 
seem to be connected with the circumstances in which Qur'anic 
revelations were delivered. In Mecca the Prophet's message 
was directed against the idolaters who opposed him, and 

Muhammad believed dial the Jews and Christians, as fellow 
monolheisls, would recognize him as a prophet. After his 
arrival in Medina, however, it became apparent that most 
Jews and Christians were not going to submit to Islam. As a 
result, the Meccan suras generally express more favorable 
opinions of the people of the book, and the Medinan suras 
more negative images. 

Despite recognizing the privileged place of the Jews as 
lia\ in«- received multiple prophets, the Quran criticizes them 
for resisting God and corrupting or hiding his Scriptures (Q 
2:75, 3:78, 4:46f, 5:13, 5:41). They are also charged with 
teaching falsehoods (Q 2:78, 3:79). and with immoral prac- 
tices such as greed, theft, idolatry, persecuting the prophets, 
charging interest, and failing to honor the Sabbath (Q 2:49 61, 
65, 3:75, 4:153-156, 160-161, 5:56-64, 7:163-166). Because 
of their sins, the Qur'an asserts that God cursed the Jews (Q 
5:13). Those Jews who did not submit to Islam faced the same 
eternal punishment as polytheists and other unbelievers 

Christians are generally portrayed sympathetically in the 
early suras. They are described as being the closest friends to 
Muslims, while Jews and idolaters are said to be hostile to 
Islam (Q 5:82). However, the Qur'an disagrees with Chris- 
tians over several doctrinal issues. Although the Muslim holy 
book recognizes Jesus' prophethood (Q 3:45-53), it denies 
thathe was divine orwas crucified (Q 4:157-158, 5:116-117). 
It also rejects the Christians' doctrine of the Trinity and their 
teaching that Jesus was the Son of God (Q 4:171-172, 19:35), 
accusing proponents of these doctrines of being unbelief ers, 
in danger of hellfire (Q 5:76f). As with the Jews, Christians 
are also charged with distorting the Scriptures. 

Muslim representations oiahlal kitab in hadith and early 
juristic literature demonstrate an increased familiarity with 
Jewish and Christian beliefs and practices, because the people 
of the book initially represented the majority population in 
lite expanded Muslim empire. On Lite whole, this literature 
pn nl , kitab in a in rati e (i rhi ' I in; ii i lilli et n 

concerned about their undue influence and warn Mti slims nol 
to imitate them. Hadith literature also lays the groundwork 
for the practice of assigning protected status (known as 
dhiiiimi status) to people of the book who submitted to 
Muslim political authority. This arrangement made it possi 
ble for Jews and Christians to practice their faiths while living 
in Muslim societies. Although treated as second-class citi- 
zens, non-Muslim communities were largely able to coexist 
peacefully with Muslims for centuries, without experiencing 
the active persecution that minority religious groups often 
encountered in Europe. 

Islamic literature from the eleventh through eighteenth 
entui ie lerally d 1 \ i b \hl al-hitm - ithiii tli com >i 
of their (//;/////;//' status. Although dhiimnk were understood to 
be inferior to Muslims, some lens and ( ainslians managed to 
attain high positions in Islamic states. A few, such as John of 
Damascus (d. c. 748), even engaged in theological discussions 
with ..Muslims. Islamic polemical literature associated with 
scholars such as Ibn Hazm of Cordoba (d. 1064), Ibn al- 
Arabi (d. 1148), and al-Ghazali (d. 1111) repeated earlier 
criticisms of Jews and Christians, posited different theories to 
explain the corruption of their scriptures, and assigned blame 
for this calamity to well known figures such as the Old 
Testament prophet Ezra, the Christian apostle Paul, and the 
Byzantine emperor Constantine. The people of the book 
were also accused of concealing biblical prophecies foretell 
ing the coming of Muhammad and the triumph of Islam. Sufi 
works, such as the poetry ofjalal al Din Rumi. look to Jesus 
and other biblical saints as models but contain similar criti- 
cisms of Jews and Christians. All these texts reflect a belief in 
Muhammad as the bearer of God's crowning revelation, 
supplanting the partial revelations of the biblical Scriptures. 

During modern times, substantial changes in the relation- 
ship between the Islamic world and the West led to shifts in 
Muslim attitudes toward the people of Lite book. From the 
earh 1800s, Islamic modernists acknowledged thai Muslims 
could learn some things from the "Christian" West, but they 
continued to assert Islam's superiority as a religious system. 
Colonizing European states attempted to impose Western 
values upon islamic populations, lull westernizing Muslim 
governments failed to achieve the promised prosperity. With 
the breakdown of the dkinimi system and the rise oi national 
ism, ethnic and religious violence has erupted throughout the 
Muslim world. This is most noticeable in the region of 
Palestine, where many Muslims see the establishment of 
Israel as a Western colonial project. During the late twentieth 
century, Islamic revivalists (or "Islamists") increased their 
influence and largely rejected the "compromises" of the 
modernists. The Islamists advocate a return to the glorious 
Islamic civilization of the past, with its division of the world 
into daral islam and dtirtil barb ("bouse of v at"; i.e., that pari 
of the world not ruled by Islamic government) and returning 
non bi lira mi i< iti I iheir 1 >i niei ' lain 

See a/so Christianity and Islam; Islam and Other Relig- 
ions; Judaism and Islam; Minorities: Dhimmis. 


Busse, Heribert IsL / i.stianit\: Theological 

and Historical Affiliations. Translated by Allison Brown. 

Princeton, N.J.: Markus Weiner Publishers, 1998. 
" .< lard, Hugh. M I nit) London: 

Grey Seal, 1996. 
Lazarti fafeh, ILn / i World \h\ I i lid 

Bible Criticism. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University 

Press, 1992. 

Lew is. Bernard. The Jews of Islam. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton 

University Press, 1984. 
11 i i 1 1 ii Islamic i < 

York: St. Martin's Press, 2001. 

Watt, William Montgomery. Muslim Christum Encounters: 
Perceptions and Misperceptions. London: Routledge, 1991. 

Stephen Cory 

able to advance as far as Harar, where he was stopped in 1559 
by Imam Nur b. al-Mujahid, al-Ghazi's nephew and succes- 
sor. Al-Mujahid ruled Adal-Harar until his death in 1568. 

See also Africa, Islam in; Ethiopia; Jihad. 


Aliir. Mordechai. Ethiopia unci the lied Sen: The Rise ana Decline 
of the Solomon/, D\n t\ nil Mush h opean Rivalry in the 
Region. London: Frank Cass, 1980. 


Ahmad b. Ibrahim al-Ghazi is known in Ethiopian Christian 
literature as Ahmad (.ran. "the left handed," political leader 
of an Islamic jihad movement in sixteenth-century Ethiopia. 
He rose to power in the context of a century-old struggle for 
domination in Ethiopia between the Christian emperors who 
reigned in Ethiopia's central and northern highlands and the 
rulers of a number ol Muslim emirates in that region's eastern 
high- and lowlands. In the 1510s and 1520s, the emperor 
Libna Dingil (r. 1508-1540) had managed to overcome the 
resistance ol the Amir of Adal, Garad Abnn, as well as oilman 
Mahfuz, the Amir of Zaila. 

Ahmad b. Ibrahim al Ghazi grew up in the province of 
Hubat south of Adal's capital city of Ilarar and had married 
Bali Del Wanbara, a daughter of Imam Mahfuz. In the 
desperate situation of 1527, he was able to unite, under his 
leadership a number of Somali war bands as well as the forces 
of the Muslim emirates to defeat an Ethiopian army. With 
the support of Ottoman artillery, al-Ghazi's army was subse- 
quently able, in 1529, to inflict a crushing defeat upon 
Ethiopia's united army. Thereupon, lie decided to embark on 
a jihad with the aim to conquer Ethiopia as a whole. 

Al-Ghazi led a number of campaigns, recorded by his 
companion, the Yemenite scholar Shihab al Din Ahmad b. 
A'nd al Oadir. tinder the title kitab Euttihat al Uahasha al 
U ima Bill. I -Ghazi luslini irmit i 

able to conquer, between 1529 and 1535, almost all the 
Ethiopian Christian territories, from Showa in the south to 
Tigray in the north. Ethiopia's transformation into a Muslim 
imamate was, however, preempted by the intervention of 
the Portuguese in 1541. Also, Ethiopia's new emperor, 
Galawdewos (r. 1540-1559), managed to reorganize the 
Christian forces and to stop al-Ghazi's advance. 

In a battle near Woyna Dega, in Dembya province, al- 
Ghazi was killed by a Portuguese fusilier. The Muslim empire 
of Ethiopia subsequently disintegrated as quickly as it had 
been conquered, and most Christians who had converted to 
Islam alter 1529 converted back to Ethiopian Christianity. In 
the aftermath ofal Ghazi's death, Emperor Galawdewos was 

Roman Loimeier 

AHMAD IBN IDRIS (1750-1837) 

Ahmad b. Idris v, as a Sufi teacher who influenced the forma- 
tion of many reforming Sufi brotherhoods in the nineteenth 


Although he never formed tarn/a (brotherhood) of his 
own, Ibn Idris was a key figure in the development of Sufi 
thought in the nineteenth century. Being firmly based in 
traditional Sufism, in the line from Ibn 'Arabi, Ibn Idris 
promoted the idea oitariqa Muhammadiyya focusing, the 
Sufi experience on following the example of and having 
mystical encounters with the Prophet — while vehemently 
rejecting blind imitation (tac/lid) of earlier scholars. Accord- 
ing to his teaching, it is the responsibility of each generation 
of Muslim scholars to discover the Muslim path by relying 
directly on the sources of divine revelation and not be 
restricted to what earlier and fallible human authorities have 

Ibn Idris was born in Maysur, a village near Larache in 
Morocco, and received his basic training in the reformist 
scholarly milieu in Fez of the late eighteenth century, before 
moving through Egypt to Mecca in 1 799. He stayed in Mecca 

(luring the Wahhabi occupation, unlike many colleagues, and 
had an ambivalent relationship to the Wahhabis; he shared 
some of their reformist views but rejected their recourse to 
anathema and violence against other Muslims. After a later 
disturbance in Mecca, he left in 1 82 8 and settled in Sabya, the 
capital of c Asir, then a part of Yemen, where he stayed for the 
remainder of his life. Several of his students formed impor- 
tant Sufi brotherhoods to disseminate his ideas, among them 
the Sannsiyya of the Sahara, the Khatmiyya and Rashidiyya/ 
Dandarawiyya of Sudan, Egypt, and the Indian Ocean re- 
gions, and the Salihiyya of Somalia. 

See also Africa, Islam in; Tariqa; Tasawwuf; Wahhabiyya. 


O'Fahey, Rex S. Enign itu i ihmad Ibn Idris and the 
Idrisi Tradition. Evanston, 111.: Northwestern University 
Press, 1990. 

Radtke, Bernd; O'Kane, John; Vikor, Kiiut S.; and O'Fahey, 
1 ' /m ( i itiqut of the 

Madhahib and Wahhabis. Leiden: Brill, 2000. 

Thomassen, Einar, and Radtke, Bernd, eds. The Letters of 

Ahniiul lb n Idris. London: Hurst, 1993. 

AHMAD GRAN &e Ahmad Ibn 
Ibrahim al-Ghazi 


The Ahmadiyya movement was founded by Mirza Ghulam 
Ahmad in the Punjab province of British India in 1889, at a 
time of competition for converts among new Muslim, Hindu, 
Sikh, and Christian reform and missionary movements. Divi 
sions among Sunni Muslims on appropriate responses fol- 
lowing the failure in 185V of a widespread rebellion against 
the British were reflected in the growth of new religious 
movements in the north west, particularly at Deoband and 
Aligarh. Ghulam Ahmad's claims to be the recipient of 
esoteric spiritual knowledge, transmitted to him through 
visions, attracted attention in such a setting. Doctrinallv, he 
aroused hostility among Sunnis mainly because of his own 
claim to prophethood. His definition of jihad as concerned 
with "cleansing oi souls," rather than w ith military struggle, 
was less controversial at a stage when most Muslims had 
accepted the practical necessity of acquiesence to British rule. 
Some have viewed the insights that drew disciples to him as 
sufistic in essence, though his denunciation of rivals caused 
detractors to question the spirituality of the movement. 

In 1889, shortly after publishing his first bookAl-Barahin 
Ihi ' t \ Vim Ih i proofs; 4 vols, 1880-1884), Ghulam 
Ahmad began to initiate disciples. His claims two years later 
that he was both iiiusih (messiah) and iimhdi (rightly guided 
one), and subsequent claims to powers of prophethood, 
caused outrage among Muslims, which was expressed in 
tracts and newspapers and in fatawa condemning him for 
denying the doc-trine of khiifui id iiiibiiwwu (finality of Mtiham 
mad's prophethood). Public controversies also marked rela- 
tions with his non-Muslim rivals, notably the Ana Samaj 
Hindu revivalist leaders with whom he clashed frequently, 
especially after he claimed to be an avatar of Krisna, and with 
Protestant Christian missionaries in the Punjab. Christians 
objected to his view that Jesus had died naturally in Kashmir, 
and that Ghulam Ahmad was the promised "second messiah."' 
He cultivated good relations, however, with the British colo- 
nial authorities who appreciated his advocacy of loyalty to the 

Raj. Although his personal dynamism, including the fear he 
inspired through the issuing of death prophecies, was respon- 
sible for his notorien among his Punjab enemies, it also drew 
many initiates, mainly from Sunni Islam. On his death, a 
disciple, Maulvi Nur al-Din, became his khn/ifii (successor; 

The movement took stronger institutional form on 27 
December 1891, when Ghulam Ahmad called the first annual 
gathering at (Jadiyan, subsequently the center for all Ahmadi 
activities. Newspapers were soon established, including Al 
Hakam (1897) and The Review of Religions (1902). Directed by 
Ghulam Ahmad that Ahmadis should demand separate cate 
gorization from Sunnis in the 1901 census, and that non- 
Ahmadi Muslims were kafirs (unbelievers), that intensified 
Sunni hostility. The community nevertheless prospered. 
Although scorned for their allegedly low social origins, many 
Ahmadis were of middle class professional status (landown- 
ers, entrepreneurs, doctors, and lawyers). Those of lower 
origins took advantage of opportunities offered within the 
community to raise their educational level and hence status. 
Many Ahmadi women were well educated. Numbers rose to 
approximatelj nineteen thousand in Punjab by 1911, rising to 
about twenty-nine thousand by 1921. Careful marriage ar 
rangernenls, as well as missionary activity, helped increase the 
membership, w Inch then spread outside India, particularh in 
Africa and Southeast Asia, through well-organized o 
missionary programs . 

A split in 1914 divided the movement in the Punjab but 

did not obstruct progress, for those who remained at Oadiyan, 
and the new, Lahore-based, secessionary branch, continued 
to use similar missionary and disciplinary methods to consoli 
date their communities. Differing mainh on understandings 
of ( fliularn Ahmad's status, the Qadiyanis retained the caliphal 
leadership, whose incumbents (since 1914 the sons and grand 
sons of (diularn Ahmadi hai e reinforced belief in the (oundei 's 
prophetic claims. The Lahoris, organized as the Ahmadiyya 
Anjuman-e Isha 'at-e Islam, regarded Ghulam Ahmad as the 
' / b i nei] of the fourteenth century," and are less 
' il distin Mb (bit ii din t inn * In fin ex pi in hoi lin 
Ghulam Ahmad to have been the "promised messiah." The 
crucial difference over prophethood has maintained the sepa- 
rate identities of the branches wherever Ahmadiyya has since 
spread, although missionary work a mong non-Muslims, es- 
pecially overseas, tends to stress common ground in Islam. 
While Ghulam Ahmad's direct successors, notably his son, 
the second caliph, Bashir al Dm Mahmud Ahmad, together 
with Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, have contributed the 
most influential publications to Qadivani proselytisrn, the 
Lahoris received notable intellectual and missionary leader- 
ship from Maulana Muhammad 'Ali in the Punjab, and 
Khwaja Kamal al-Din in London. 

During the period of overt nationalist struggle in India in 
the 1920s and 1930s some Lahoris began to support wider 

Members of the Muslim Ahmadiyya group, including their leader, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad Khalifatul Masih IV, left, begin the Initiation 
ceremony at an international Ahmadiyya convention in Germany in 2001 . In the late nineteenth century, Ahmadiyya's founder, Mirza Ghulam 
Ahmad, started this branch of Islam after claiming to be a prophet who received spiritual visions. AP/Wide World Photos 

Indian-Muslim agendas. Even though Zafrullah Khan was 
made president of the Muslim League conference in 1931, 
most Qadiyanis maintained their strong pro-British stance 
while flashing verbally and violently with some militant 
Sunni movements, notably the Ahrars. Yet both groups' 
generally loyal stance ensured them considerable practical 
protection against possible recriminations from Muslims 
while colonial rule lasted. 

Independence and Partition brought new problems for 
both groups. When the Gurdaspur district was allotted to 
India many Qadiyanis migrated to Pakistan, where they 
established a new headquarters at Rabwa. Pakistan has not 
proved congenial to the interests of either branch, although 
Zafrullah Khan was made Pakistan foreign minister and 
others initially gained important posts in the civil service, 
army, and air force. Latent antagonism escalated during the 
constitution-making controversies ol the late 1940s, coming 
to a head in 1953 when anti-Ahmadiyya riots, encouraged by 
ulema eekin^ he con ritution 1 dei hi ttion of Ahmadis as 
non Muslims, resulted in many deaths. Although the govern- 
ment fell and a judicial inquiry condemned the attacks, 

continual pressure on the community culminated in the 
National Assembly's declaration of the Ahmadis as non- 
Muslim in 1974. The military rule of Zia ul-Haq, which 
favored Islamization policies on a narrowly Sunni basis, 
proved disadvantageous to all minorities: His ( )rdinance XX 
of April 1984 prohibited Ahmadis from calling themselves 
Muslim. Subsequent prohibitions, notably on publishing, 
and on calling their places of worship mosques, have severely 
restricted Ahmadi religious life in Pakistan. The head of the 
Rabwa community, the fourth khalifa, Mirza Tahir Ahmad, 
migrated to London in the mid-1980s, after which many 
South Asian. Ahmadis have settled outside the subcontinent, 
thereby strengthening the generally economically prosper 
ous Ahmadi missionary communities, belonging to both 
branches, which were already established in many parts of 
Africa, in Fiji, and in Southeast Asia, as well as in North 
America and Europe. Although both branches report growth, 
there are no reliable statistics on numbers and distribution. 
Both branches continue to publish prolificalh , but there has 
been little scholarly evaluation of academic anil institutional 
developments, most accounts using the general term . Ihmadi 
to describe both branches. 

See also Ahmad, Mirza Ghulam; Pakistan, Islamic 
Republic of; South Asia, Islam in. 


Alumni, Hi) in in ' i ilinl in / ' ' ; I ' > 

Translated by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan as The Pbiloso 

phy of the Teachings ofhhmi. Tiliord, Surrey, U.K.: Islam 

International Publications Ltd., 1996. 
Frit mi in, Yohanan. P I 

Religious ThouoJ t ' / / ound. Berkeley, 

Los Angeles, and London: University of California 

Press, 1989. 
Jones, Kenneth ^ ' R \l i < 

ish India. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University 

Press, 1989. 
Khan, Sir Muhammad Zalrnllah Ihmadi < Tl Hi t uia 

of Islam. London: Tabshir Publications, 1978. 
Lavan, Spencer. The Ahmadiyah Movement: A History and 

Perspective. Delhi: Manohar Book Service, 1974. 

Ami A. Powell 


Sayyid Ahmad Khan was an educational and political l 
of Muslims who were living under British rule in Indi 
developed concepts of religious modernism ; 
identity that mark the transition from Mogul India to the 
rise of representative government and the quest for self- 
-n and educated in Delhi in the surviving 
it of the Mogul regime, Sayyid Ahmad embarked on a 
career in the British subordinate judicial service, the lower- 
level law courts where Indian judges presided and cases were 
conducted in Indian languages, and was posted in a series of 
north Indian towns and cities. During these years he pub- 
lished historical and religious texts and was one of the 
pioneers of the printing of Urdu prose. He remained loyal to 
the British during the 1857 revolt, and worked to reconcile 
Indian, Muslim, and British institutions and ideologies, hi 
1864, he founded the Scientific Society in Ghazipur (shifted 
the following year to Aligarh), which was devoted to translat 
ing practical and scientific works into Urdu. In 1869, he 
traveled to England to write a defense of the life of the 
Prophet and to examine British educational institutions. 
While in England, he conceived the idea of founding a 
residential college primarily for Muslims and devoted the resl 
of his life to the cause of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental 
College, Aligarh, which was founded in 1875. During this 
period, he became a prolific writer on religious, social, and 
political issues. In 1887, he announced his opposition to the 
Indian National Congress on the grounds that represent alive 
government was not in the best into i it of Muslims. Knighted 
by the British in 1888, he left a legacy of political separatism 

that future generations transformed into a movement for the 
creation of Pakistan as a separate state for South Asian 

See also Aligarh; Education; Liberalism, Islamic; Mod- 
ernism; Modern Thought; Pakistan, Islamic Republic 
of; South Asia, Islam in; Urdu Language, Literature, 
and Poetry. 


Lelyveld, David. A ' ' Gen 1/ / 

in British India. 2d ed. New Delhi: Oxford University 
Press, 1996. 

J i il i i * !A ' II 

Muslim Theology. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1978. 

David Lelyveld 

(LATE 1830s-1908) 

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was born into a landowning Sunni 
family at Qadiyan in Gurdaspur district, Punjab, northwest 
India. He initiated disciples into his Ahmadiyya movementin 
1889, after announcing that messages received in visions 
designated him the mujaddid (renewer of Islam) for the age. 
He also claimed to be the masih-i maw'ud (promised Mes- 
siah), and the viahdi (rightly guided one), and to have powers 
of miracle and prophecy. Most Sunni Muslims deemed such 
a denial of khan;/ al nuhwwwa (finality of Muhammad's 
prophethood) heretical, but his movement grew to nearly 
twenty thousand adherents in his lifetime. He was succeeded 
in 1908 by the first khalifa of the Ahmadiyya movement, 
Maulawi Nur al-Din. 

See also Ahmadiyya. 


Ahmad, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam. Islami usul ki filasafi. (1896). 
Translated by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan as The Pbiloso 
phy of the Teachings of Islam. Tiliord, Surrey, U.K.: Islam 
International Publications Ltd., 1996. 

Friedmann, Yohanan. Prophecy Continuous: . Ispects of. Ibimidi 
Religious Thought em d \i tl Bn, 'round. Berkeley, 

Los Angeles, and London: University of California 
Press, 1989. 

C A 5 ISHA (614-678 C.E.) 

c A 3 isha bint Abi Bakr was 
Muhammad and a signific; 

the favorite wife of the prophet 
nt religious and political figure in 

earl) islam. The daughter of Umm Ruman and one of the 
Prophet's companions, Abu Bakr (the (irsi caliph of Islam 
after the death of the Prophet), she married Muhammad at a 
young age. Her intelligence, beauty, and spirited personality 
are well recorded in historical sources. 

The hadith tradition records a unique level of intimacy 
shared by the Prophet and 'A'isha. They bathed in the same 
water, he prayed while she lay stretched out in front of him, 
he received revelation when they were under the same blan- 
ket, and he expressed a desire to be moved to 'A'isha's 
chambers when he knew his death was approaching. Affec- 
tion and playfulness also characterized [heir relationship. 
They raced with each other and enjoyed listening to the 
singing- of Ethiopian musicians together. The Prophet re- 
lated thai when A'isha « as pleased with him, she « ould swear 
"By the Cod of Muhammad" and when she was annoyed with 
him she would swear "By the God of Abra 1 lam . " She regularly 
engaged the Prophet on issues of revelation and religion. 
Recognizing her intelligence and perceptiveness, he told the 
Muslims "Take two thirds of your religion from al Ilnmaj ra," 
the term of affection referring to the rosy-cheeked 'A'isha. 

A scandal once surrounded 'A'isha, who was mistakenly 
left behind during a caravan rest stop on an expedition with 
the Prophet. She returned to Medina escorted by a young 
man who had found her wailing alone. Amid the ensuing 
gossip and speculation about 'A'isha's fidelity, one of the 
Prophet's companions, Ali, advised Muhammad to divorce 
her. This caused her to bear deep resentment against 'Ali, 
which manifested itself in her later opposition to him as 
Muhammad's successor Finallj a Qur'anic revelation exon- 
erated her of all suspected wrongdoing, proclaiming her 
innocence. This same revelation established the punishment 
for false accusations of adultery. 

In the lifetime of the Prophet she, together with Muham- 
mad's other wives, was referred to as "Mother of the Believ- 
ers." She is known to have transmitted approximately 1,210 
traditions (hadiths), only 300 of which are included in the 

canonical hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim. She is 
said to have transmitted hadith to at least eighty-five Mus- 
lims, as well as to have corrected inaccuracies in the hadiths 
reported by some of the Prophet's male companions. 

After the death of the Prophet, she was critical of the third 
caliph, Ulhman, but also called his killers to accountability 
during the caliphate of 'Ali. Together with the Companions 
Znbairand Talha, she mobilized opposition to 'Ali, culminal 
ing in the Battle of the Camel (656 c.e.). The name of the 
battle reflects the centrality of A'isha's role in the conflict, 
seated on her camel in the middle of the battlefield. This 
struggle over succession marked the development of a major 
civil war (called fitmi) in Islam, which ultimately contributed 
to one of the most significant religious and political di\ isions 
in the Muslim world. The representations of 'A'isha in 
subsequent Shi'ite and Sunni polemics reflected some of the 

historical antagonisms between the two. Many Shi'ite Mus- 
lims reviled 'A'isha, whereas .Sunni Muslims embraced her as 
a revered wife of the Prophet. Tradition holds that she was 

consulted on theological, legal, and other religious issues, and 
was also known for her poetic skills. She is buried at al-Baqi 
in Medina. 

See also 'Ali; Bukhari, al-; Fitna; Muhammad; Shi'a: 
Early; Sunna. 


Abbott, Nabia. 'A'ishah: The Beloved of Muhammad. Chicago: 

University of Chicago Press, 1 942 . 
Mernissi, Fatima. The Veil and the Mule Elite: A Feminist 

Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam. Reading, Mass: 

Addison Wesley, 1992. 
Spellberg, Denise A. Politics (lender and the Islamic Past: The 

Legacy of 'A'isha Bint . Ibi Bakr. New York: Columbia 

University Press, 1994. 

Sa'diyya Shaikh 

AKBAR (1542-1605) 

Jalal al-Din Akbar was born in 1542 as his father Humayun 
fled India before the forces of the Afghan w arlord Sher Shah 
Sur. After thirteen years of exile, his father returned to rule 
India, but diet! in a fall in a matter of months. _Vkbar came to 
the throne at the age thirteen in 1555. He ruled until his own 
death in 1605. 

Akbar's reputation as the true founder of the Mogul 
empire rests partly on his own reign of fifty years and partly 
on the writings of Abu '1-Fazl, a loyal companion who was 
Akbar's ardent supporter. Abu '1-Fazl's A'in-i Akbari and 
Akbarnamah presented the image of Akbar as a political 
genius. Abu '1-Fazl saw Akbar as the "perfect man" (insan-i 
kaiiiil) of Sufi lore: a master of both the temporal and spiritual 
realms, lie, therefore, inflated Akbar's reputation whenever 

in practical terms, Akbar adopted some of the adm 
tive practices of the defeated Slier Shah. As the influence of 
his grandfather and fathers aging courtiers declined, Akbar 
was free to recruit a new corps of advisors, like Abu '1-Fazl. 
These advisors depended on his patronage for their own 
status. During Akbar's reign, India saw an influx of silver 
bullion as European traders began massive purchases of 
Indian cloth. Because of the cash nexus created by increased 
commerce, Akbar was able to manage a system in which 
officials received salaries either directly from the imperial 
treasury or through assignments of the gove 

allotment from the capitol of the province for specific dis- 
tricts. The central authority gained an unprecedented degree 
of control over stale officials. Akhar's reputation was further 
enhanced as the British came t< i role India. They saw him as a 
model for their own style of rule: religiously neutral, hut strict 
n of central power. 

See also Empires: Mogul; South Asia, Islam in. 


Alam, Muzafiar, and Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, eds. The Mtightil 
State 1526-1150. New Delhi: Oxford University 
Press, 1998. 

Gregory C. Kozloirski 


Akhbariyya was a movement in Twelver Shi ism thai eiripha 
sized a return to the sources of the law (Qur'an and hadith). 
Hadith in Twelver Shi 'ism include accounts of the ;ai ing 
and actions of the imams (normalh termed nkhbnr). The 
Akhbariyya styled themselves as followers of the imams 
(through the tikhbiir) that record their rulings, rather than the 
interpretations of these texts by later scholars. The origins of 
the Akhbari movement are a debated point both within the 
Twelver tradition, and among Western commentators. The 
Akhbaris themselves, however, see their movement as the 
original Shi'ism, which '.mis later corrupted by scholars who 
had imitated Sunni methods of jurisprudence. Their oppo- 
nents, termed Usulis (or in some texts, mujtahids), considered 
the Akhbaris an innovative movement (bid'a), arising in the 
sixteenth century with the work of Muhammad Amin al- 
Astarabadi (d. 1626). There is evidence to support both 
interpretations of the movement's origins. Early Muslim 
h i io i iphi I > oil i i n n in i in / I 

,;■// /// nihil! (c. 112,'), la Ik old lie division of the iiiiiiniiyyti into 
i i in 1 / i Whether lb earl khbari 

can be linked to the later, better-defined, movement is 

In biographical works, Astarabadi is normally described 
as the founder of the movement, though Astarabadi viewed 
himself as its "reviver." He was followed by a number of 
scholars who explicitly identified themselves with the 
Akhbariyya. What united these scholars was a call for the 
return to the sources in a belief that the meaning of the 
imams' words and actions was readily available, but had been 
lost by centuries of excessive interpretation. They identified 
this excessive interpretation with the introduction of the 
doctrine of ijtibiid into Shrile legal thinking In al Allama al 
Hilli (d. 1325). Akhbaris also criticized other juristic practices 
linked with the theory oiijtihad. In particular, they viewed the 
"canonical four books" of Twelver Shi ite hadith as contain- 
ing only "sound" (stibib) traditions. They believed that the 

hadith in these books should not be examined by the tradi- 
tional means of establishing historical accuracy. Further- 
more, the Akhbariyya maintained that these traditions were 
never ambiguous in meaning, and were in no need of inter- 
pretation. In this sense, the Akhbariyya can be viewed as 
literalist, or even fundamentalist. 

The Akhbariyya drew on the diverse areas of Safavid 
Twelver intellectual life. There were Akhbaris who were 
influenced by nrj sticism and philosophy, such as Muhammad 
Taqi al-Majlisi (d. 1659/1660) and Muhsin Fayd al-Kashani 
(d. 1 680), as well as the stricter, more legalistic manifestations 
of Shi'ism, such as Mulla Muhammad Tahir Qummi (d. 
1686) and al-Hurr al-Amili (d. 1693). WTiat they shared was a 
common attitude toward the manner in which the shari'a 
might be known. They were, then, in the main a movement of 
law, and often referred to themselves as a madhhab (school of 
law). As an intellectual force, the Akhbariyya died out in Iran 
and Iraq in the early nineteenth century, though they contin- 
ued for a short time thereafter to be influential in India. Even 
today, there continue to be scholars who follow a methodol- 
ogy similar to Akhbarism in the Shi ite world, particularly in 
the Persian Gulf area and southern Iran, 

See also Law; Mu'tazilites, Mu'tazila; Shi'a: Imami 


Cleave, Robei t. / Doubt: Two Tbeo i 

prudence. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2000. 

Tabataba'i, H. Modarresssi. "Rationalism and Tradition- 
alism in Shi'i Jurisprudence." Studia Islamica 59 
(1984): 141-158. 


AkhliKf. i lie plural form of kbi/l/ir/, refers to innate disposition 
or character and, by extension in Muslim thought, to ethics. 
In the Qur'an the term is used to refer to the prophet 
Muhammad's exemplar) ethical character (68:4). The Qur'an 
also emphasizes the significance of ethically guided action as 
the underpinning for a committed Muslim life. Qur'anic 
ethics emphasize in particular die dignit) of the human being. 
accountability, justice, care and compassion, stewardship of 
socien and the em ironrnenl. and the obligation to family life 
and values. Faith and ethics are thus intertwined in the 
Qur'an and linked further to the Prophet as a moral exemplar. 

In elaborating and further developing ethical thought, 
Muslims, throughout history, developed a diverse set of 

expressions: philosophical, theological, legal, and literary. 

These expressions were framed within a context of vigorous 
intellectual debate and in interaction with the legacies of 
many ancient traditions, including the works attributed to 
Aristotle and Plato, and Iranian, Indian, Jewish, and Chris- 
tian thought. 

The Muslim philosophical tradition of ethics developed 
an intellectual framework for rationally grounded moral 
action. Some of die key thinkers who contributed to this were 
al-Farabi (d. 950), Ibn Miskawayh (d. 1030), Ibn Sina (d. 
1037), and Nasir al-Din Tusi (d. 1273/74). Their works in 
turn influenced other major figures, including the Sunni 
scholar al Ghazali (d. ! Ill), who dill no! ilv ,u igree with 
them. The philosophical tradition, in common with other 
early "roups such as the Mu'tazila and the Slid, emphasized 
reason and logic in arguing for a universal ethical framework. 
Ethical action in their view did not oppose religiously grounded 
ethics, rather it sought to enhance their meaning ;mu.\ appre 
ciation by philosophical reasoning and took account of per- 
sonal and social, as well as political, \ irtues. Al Farahi's classic 
id Miitl/iu/b id Fiiililnh (The excellent city) explores the ideals 
of a political community that produces the greatest good for 
all its citizens. 

Muslim legal tradition also developed a framework for 
ii i in i i It 1 i I ial bel i i i iu lira I I 
jurists classified acts according to their moral value, ranging 
from obligatory, meritorious, indifferent, disapproved, and 
the forbidden. All actions thus fell within these normatively 
and juristically defined categories and provided religiously 
defined prescriptions that could be enacted at a personal as 
well as a social level to followers by scholars trained in 
jurisprudence and relig 

Mystically grounded ethics as developed in the Sufi tradi- 
tion emphasized the necessity of an inner orientation and 

awareness for guiding human action, leading to greater inti- 
macy, knowledge, and persona] experience of the divine. 
Ethical acts were linked to spiritual development, and Sufi 
teachers wrote manuals, guides, and literary works to illus- 
trate the way — tariqa — which represented, in their view, the 
inner dimension of outward acts. 

In the modern period, as Muslims have come into greater 
contact with each other and with the rest of the world, their 
ethical legacy, while still continuing to be influential in its 
traditional forms, is also being challenged to address emerg- 
ing issues, changing needs, and social transition. Muslim 
scholars are debating and formulating responses to a variety 
of issues, prominent among which are the ethical bases of 
political, social, and legal governance; the ethics of a just 
economic order; family life; war and peace; biomedical ethics; 
human rights and freedoms; the ethics of life; and the broader 
question raised by globalization, degradation of the environ- 
ment, and the uses and abuses of technology. 

See also Adab; Ethics and Social Issues; Falsafa. 


Cook, Michael. Comviniiding High, iii/il Forbidding Wrong 
in Mamie Thought. New York: Cambridge University 
Press, 2000. 

Izutsi I o nihil o. EH i i i p i / him riontr 
eal: McGill University Press, 1966 

Azhn Nanji 


C ALI (600-661) 

c Ali ibn Talib, born in Mecca about 600 c.e., was the cousin 
and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad, father of the 
Prophet's grandsons Hasan and Husayn, and fourth caliph 

(656 661) of the Muslim uiiniiii (commnnitj of believers). 

At a very young age, c Ali was adopted by Muhammad, who 
brought him up like his own son. When Muhammad received 
the divine revelation, 'Ali was still a very young boy. He was 
the first male to accept Islam, and to dedicate all his life to the 
cause of Islam. c Ali's courage became legendary because he 
led several important lr 

At the Prophet's death, the community split into two 
major groups contending for political succession. During a 
gathering of the unsur (helpers), Abu Bakr was elected first 
caliph. A group led by 'Ali and his supporters (Zubayr, Talha, 
Miqdad, Salman al-Farsi, and Abu Dharr Ghifari, among 
others) held that 'Ali was the legitimate heir of the Prophet. 
To preserve the unity of the Muslim umma, All is said to have 
kept a low profile and concentrated his efforts on religious 
matters. The first version of the Qur'an was attributed to him 
by some of his contemporaries. In the period preceding his 
caliphate, 'Ali, known for his learning in Qur'an and sunna, 
had given advice on secular and spiritual matters. On several 
occasions, he disagreed with Uthman (the third caliph) and 
criticized him on the application of certain Islamic principles. 

Following Uthman's murder, the ansar invited 'Ali to 
accept the caliphate and he agreed only after a long hesita- 
tion. All tht on h hi liu i o erning period li I eil stron 
opposition. First he was opposed by 'A'isha, Muhammad's 
wife, but the strongest opposition came from Mu'awiya, who 
had his stronghold in Syria. Two companions of the Prophet, 
Talha and Zubayr, already frustrated in their political ambi- 
tions, were further disappointed by 'Ali, in their efforts to 
secure for themselves the governorships of Basra and Kufa. 
Thus they broke with him and asked to bring Uthman's 

murderers to trial. 'Ali appointed Abd Allah b. 'Abbas gover- 
nor of Basra, and went to Kufa in order to gain support 
against Mu'awiya. He formed a diverse coalition, comprised 
of men like 'Ammar b. Yasir, Qays b. Sa'd b. 'Ubada, Malik 
Ashtar, and Ash'at b. Qays Kindi. 

Ali opened negotiations with Mu'awiya, hoping to gain 
his allegiance. Mu'awiya insisted on Syrian autonomy under 
his own leadership. Thus he mobilized his Syrian supporters 
and refused to pay homage to 'Ali, on the pretext that his 
people had not participated in his election. After a few 
months of confrontation, 'Amr b. 'As advised Mu'awiya to 
have his soldiers raise parchments inscribed with verses of the 
Qur'an on their spearheads; the goal was to bring about the 
cessation of hostilities between the people of Iraq, who 
formed the bulk of Ali's army, and the people of Syria. 'Ali 
saw through the stratagem, but only a minority wanted to 
pursue the fight. Hence he ended the fight and sent Ash'at b. 
Qays lo find out Mu'awiya's intentions. Mu'awiya suggested 
that each side should choose an arbiter; together, the two 
men would reach a decision based on the Qur'an. This 
decision would then be binding on both parties. 'Amr b. 'As, 
the Syrian representative, and Abu Musa Ash'ari, the Iraqi 
representative, met to draft an agreement, but in the mean- 
time 'Ali's coalition began to collapse. The arbiters and other- 
eminent persons met at Adruh in January 659 to discuss the 
selection of the new caliph. Both parties agreed to the choice 
of 'Ali and Mu'awiya and were willing to submit the selection 
of the new caliph to an electorate body (skiira). In the public- 
declaration that followed, Abu Musa kept his part of the 
agreement, but 'Amr b. 'As deposed 'Ali and declared 
Mu'awiya caliph. 

Meanwhile, Mu'awiya had followed m\ aggressive course 
of action by making incursions into the heart of Iraq and 
Arabia. By the end of 660 'Ali, who was regarded as caliph 
only by a diminishing number of partisans, lost control of 
Egypt and Hijaz. He was struck with a poisoned sword by a 
Kharijite named Abd al Rahman I). Muljarn while praying in 
a mosque at Kufa. Ali died at the age of sixty three and was 
buried near Kufa in late January 661. 'Ali's death brought to 
an end the era of Rashidun, the four "rightly-guided" caliphs. 
The Sunnis believe thatthe order of merit corresponds to the 
chronological historical order of succession of the four first 
caliphs (Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman, and 'Ali). The Shi'ites 
preferred 'Ali over the first three caliphs; they never accepted 
Mu'awiya or any later caliphs, and took the name shi'tit Ali, 
or 'Ali's Party. 

Several places are mentioned as 'Ali's shrine. But most 
Shi'ite scholars are in agreement that 'Ali was buried in 
Ghari, west of Kufa, at the site of present-day Najaf. These 
scholars explained the discrepancies among the various re- 
ports by maintaining that 'Ali himself requested to be buried 
in a secret place so as to prevent his enemies from desecrating 

Although many Muslims forbid representing the Prophet and his 
family in images, this fresco depicts 'AN ibn Abi Talib, fourth caliph 
of Islam, and the cousin and brother-in-law of Muhammad. 
Muhammad raised 'Ali like a son, and 'Ali became the first male to 
accept Islam. Here, 'Ali holds the body of an imam killed during 
political power struggles after Muhammad's death. © SEF/Akt 
Resource, NY 

his grave. Under the Safavid Empire, his grave became the 
focus of much devoted attention, exemplified in the pilgrim- 
age made by Shah Isma'il I (d. 1524) to Najaf and Karbala. 
Today a gold-plated dome rises above 'Ali's tomb. The 
interior is decorated with polished silver, mirror work, and 
ornamental tiles. A silver tomb i ises over the grave itself, and 
the courtyard has two minarets. The recitation of special 
prayers over 'Ali's grave is considered particularly beneficial 
in view of 'Ali's role as intercessor on the Day of Judgment. 
Sunni polemicists have often accused the Shi'ites of prefer- 
ring pilgrimages lo tire tombs of 'Ali and other imams over 
the pilgrimage to Mecca. 

It is important to note that 'Ali's position became impor- 
tant to different groups of Muslims stalling from the early 
period. For the Shi'a, he is said to have participated in the 
Prophet's ascension (mi'raj) to heaven and acquired several 
honorific titles. The 'Alya'iyya believed in the divinity of 
Muhammad and Ali. and gave preference in divine matters lo 
'Ali. Among Sufis he is renowned as a great Sufi saint for his 
piety and poverty as well as the possessor of esoteric knowl- 
edge. The earh Shi'ite traditions regarded 'Ali as the most 
judicious of the Companions and the Prophet nicknamed him 

Abu Turab (Father of Dust) because he saw him sleeping in 
the courtyard of the mosque. Some sources agree that 'Ali was 
;i profoundly religious man, devoted lo die cause of Islam and 
the rule of justice in accordance with the Qur'an and the sunna. 

One of the basic differences between Sin ism and Sunnism 
concerns the question of the respective roles of 'Ali (and the 
other imams) on the one hand, and Muhammad on the other. 
Shi ism shares with Sunnism the belief that Muhammad, as 
seal of the prophets, was the last to have received revelation 
(■era by). Classical Shi he doctrine holds that Ah and the other 
imams were the recipients of inspiration (ilbani). Butitis only 
the legislative prophecy that has come to an end, that is, the 
previous prophets such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muham- 
mad, the last of the legislative prophets, introduced a new 
religious law while abrogating the previous one; the guidance 
of humanity must continue under the walaya (Institution of 
the Friends of God) of an esoteric prophecy (\'/ilw\ra batiniyya). 
Thus 'Ali, the first imam, is designated as the foundation 
(asas) of the imamate. He is the possessor of a divine light 
(/////•) passed on from Muhammad to him, and later from him 
on to the other imams. The Sunnis believe that the Prophet 
did not explicitly name his successor after his death; the 
Shi'ites, on the contrary, hold that he explicitly named his 
successor 'Ali at Ghadir Khumm, an oasis between Mecca 
and Medina. 

According to the Shi'a, a passage in the Qur'an (2:118) 
shows that the imamate is a divine institution; the possessor 
thereof must be from the seed of Ibrahim: "And when his 
Lord tested Abraham with certain words, and he fulfilled 
them. He said, 'Behold, I make you a leader [imam] for the 
people.' Said he, 'And of my seed?'" Even the Sunnis hold 
that the true caliph can only he one of the Quraysh tribe, but 
based on this verse the Shi'a maintain that the divinely 
appointed leader must himself he impeccable (ma'sum). The 
primeval creation ol 'Ali is therefore a principle of the Shi'ite 
faith. According to them, as expressed by Muhammad Baqir 
Majlisi (d. 1698), Muhammad explicitly designated (iitiss jtili) 
ir by God's command: 

When the ceremonies of the pilgrimage were com- 
pleted, the Prophet, attended by Ali and the Muslims, 
left Mecca for Medina. On reaching Ghadir Khumm, 
he [the Prophet] halted, although that place had never 
before been a halting place for cara\ ans. The reason for 
the halt was that verses of the Qur'an had come upon 
him, commanding him to establish 'Ali in the Caliphate. 
Before this he had received similar messages, but had 
not been instructed explicitly as to the time for 'Ali's 
appointment. He had delayed because of opposition 
that might occur. But ii the crowd of pilgrims had gone 
beyond Ghadir Khumm they would have separated 
and the different tribes would have gone in various 
directions. This is why Muhammad ordered them to 
assemble here, for he had things to say to 'Ali which he 
wanted all to hear. The message that came from the 

Most High was this: "O Apostle, declare all that has 
been sent down to thee from thy Lord. No part of it is 
to be withheld. God will protect you against men, for 
he does not guide the unbelievers" (5:71). Because of 
this positive command to appoint 'Ali as his successor, 
and perceiving that Cod would not countenance fur- 
ther delay, he and his company dismounted in this 
unusual stopping place. The day was hot and he told 
them to stand under shelter of some thorn trees . . . 
when the crowd had all gathered, Muhammad walked 
up on to the platform of saddles and called 'Ali to stand 
at his right. After a prayer of thanks he spoke to the 
people, informing them that lie had been forewarned 
of his death, and saying, "I have been summoned to the 
Gate of God, and I shall soon depart to Cod, to be 
concealed from you, and bidding iaren ell to this world. 
I am leaving you the Book of God [Qur'an], and if you 
follow this you will not go astray. And I am leaving you 
also the members of household [ahl al bayt], who are 
not to be separated from the Book of God until they 
meet me at the drinking fountain of Raw thar." He then 
called out, "Am I not, more precious to you than your 
own lives?" They said "Yes." Then it was that he took 
'Ali's hands and raised them so high that he showed the 
whites of his armpits, and said, "Whoever has me as his 
master (mawla) lias 'Ali as his master. Be friend to his 
friend, O Lord, and be an enemy to his enemies. Help 
those who assist him and frustrate those who oppose 
him." (Donaldson, p. 5) 

This sura concluded the revelation: "This day I have 
perfected your religion for you, and have filled up the meas- 
ure of my favors upon you, and it is my pleasure that Islam be 
your religion" (5:5). The event of Ghadir Khumm is not 
denied in Sunnis but interpreted differently by them. For the 
Sunnis, Muhammad wanted only to honor 'Ali. They under- 
stood the term vitrrrlti in the sense of friend, whereas the Shi'a 
recognized 'Ali as their master; the spiritual an thority of 'Ali 
was passed afterward to his direct descendants, the rightful 
guides {imams). The successor of the Prophet, for the Sunnis, 
is his khtii ( diph), the guardian of religious law (shari'a), 
while for the Shi'ites, the successor is the inheritor (rrasi) of 
his esoteric knowledge and the interpreter, par excellence, of 
the Qur'an. Since Muhammad was the last Prophet who 
closed the prophetic cycle, the Shi'a believe that humanity 
still needs spiritual guidance: the cycle of imamate must 
succeed the cycle of prophecy. Another tradition gives us 
some insight into the key role of 'Ali, based on the status of 
Aaron: "O people, know dial what Aaron was to Moses, 'Ali is 
to me, except that there shall be no prophet after me." 
(Foonawala and Kohlberg, p. 842), The imamate is a cardinal 
principle of Shi'ite faith. It is only through the imam that true 
knowledge can be obtained. 'Ali, as the Wasi, assisted Mu- 
hammad in his task. The Prophet received the revelation 
iid e i ihh bed the religious 1 \ hil h 

the repository of the Prophet's knowledge, provided its 

spiritual exegesis (ta'wil). Thus the imamate, the heart of 
Shi'ism, is closely tied to c Ali's spiritual mission. For Sunnis, 
the imamate is necessary because of the revelation and is 
considered a law among the laws of religion. For them, the 
imamate is not part of the principles of religion and belief, 
whereas for Shi'iles, the imamate is a rational necessity and an 
obliged grace (lutfwajib). 

From the beginning, Shi'ite Islam has emphasized the 
importance of human intellect placed in the service of faith. 
The origins of the encouragement given to intellect goes 
back to Ali the commander of die faithful (amir al inn 'win in). 
According to a saving attributed to him, there is an intimate 
bond between intellect and faith: "Intellect ['aql\ in the heart 
is like a lamp in the center of the house" (Amir-Moezzi, p. 48). 
The heart's eye of the faithful can see the divine light (nur) 
when there is no longer anyone between God and him; it is 
when God show ed Himself to him, since 'aql is the interior 
guide (imam) of the believer. 

In early Sufi circles, 'Ali was especially renowned for his 
piety and poverty. He is said to have dressed simply. His 
biographies abound in statements about his austerity, rigor- 
ous observance of religious dimes, ami detachment from 
worldly goods. He is also described as the most knowledge- 
able of the Companions, in terms of both theological ques- 
tions and matters of positive law . Abu al Qasim al-Junayd (d. 
910) considered Ali as his "'master in the roots and branches 
[of religious knowledge] and in perseverance in the face of 
hardship" (Poonawala and. Kohlberg, p. 846). With the growth 
of Sufi doctrine in the tenth and eleventh centuries, increas- 
ing emphasis was placed on 'Ali's possession of a knowledge 
imparted directly by God (Him laduni). Most of the Sufis 
believe that each shaykh < ir pir (sage) inherited his knowledge 
direct!) from Ali. The m\ esunent of the cloak as a symbol of 
the transmission of spiritual powers is closely associated to 
'Ali: the two precious things shown to Muhammad during the 
mystical ascent (////' raj) were spiritual poverty and a cloak that 
he had placed on 'Ali and his family (Taliirta, Hasan, and 

Sufi orders flourished particularly in Central Asia and 
Persia: Muslim scholars became imbued with Shi'ite specula 
tive theology and Sufism. One of the earliest representatives 
of this trend was 'Ali b. Mitham Bahrani (d. 1281), who saw in 
'Ali the original shaykh and founder of the mystical tradition. 
For them 'Ali's mission is seen as the hidden and secret aspect 
of prophecy. This underlying idea is based on the Khutbatal 
bayan: "I am the Sign of the All-Powerful. I am the Gnosis of 
mysteries. I am the companion of the radiance of the divine 
Majesty. I am the First and the Last, the Manifest and the 
Hidden. I am the Face of God. I am the mirror of God, the 
supreme Pen, the Tabula secreta. I am he who in the Gospel 
is called Elijah. I am he who is in possession of the secret of 
God's Messenger" (Corbin, p. 49). Or this next one: "I 

carried Noah in the ark, I am Jonah's companion in the belly 
of the fish. I am Khadir, who taught Moses, I am the Teacher 
of David and Solomon, I am Dhu al-Qarnayn" (Poonawala 
and Kohlberg, p. 847). According to anothel tradition (Amir 
Moezzi, p. 30), Muhammad and 'Ali were created from the 
same divine light (nur) and remained united in the world of 
the spirits; only in litis world did they separate into indh idual 
entities so that mankind might be shown the difference 
between Prophet and U ali. It is only through him that God 

See also Caliphate; Imamate; Shi'a: Early; Succession. 


Amir-Moezzi, Mohammad Ali. The Divine Guide in Early 

Shi'ism. Translated by David Streight. Albany, N.Y.: State 

University of New York, 1 994. 
' ii bin I leni \ Ilisi i h lie Philo pi. i franslated by 

Liadain Sherrard and Philip Sherrard. London: Kegan 

Paul International, 1993. 
Donaldson, Dwight M. The Shi'ite Religion. London: 

Luzac, 1933. 
Hollister, John. The Shi' a of India. London: Luzac, 1955. 
Jafri, S. H. M. The ()i II D 

hlam. London and New York: Longman, 1979. 
i mi ii, Aloojan. An I I i ' The llisto 

and Doctrines of Twelver Shi'ism. New Haven, Conn.: Yale 

University Press, 1985. 
Mufid, Shaykh al-. Kitdb al-Irshad. Translated by I. K. A. 

Howard. New York: Muhammadi Trust, 1981. 
Poonawala, Ismail K., and Kohlberg, Etan. '"Ali b. Abi 

Taleb." In Vol. 1, Encyclopaedia Iranian London and Bos- 
ton: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982. 

Diana Steigerwald 


The north Indian city of Aligarh, site of Aligarh Muslim 
University, has played a leading role in the political life and 
intellectual history of South Asian Muslims since the mid- 
dle of the nineteenth century. The importance of Aligarh 
arose initially under the leadership of Sayyid Ahmad Khan 
(1817-1898). Through a series oi organizations and institu- 
tions, the "Aligarh movement" (the social, cultural, and 
political iritA ement founded by Sayyid Ahmad Khan) sought 
to prepare Muslims for changes in technology . social life, and 
politics associated with British rule, the rise of nationalism. 
and the conditions of modernity. In 1865, Aligarh became the 
headquarters of the Aligarh Scientific Society, and, in 1875, 
the Mahomedan Anglo Oriental College, the forerunner of 

the university established there in 1920. Aligarh was the first 
headquarters of the Muslim League, a party established in 
1906 to secure recognition of Muslims as a separate political 
community within India, a concept that ultimately led in 

1947 to the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan as a 
separate nation-state for South Asian Muslims. After parti- 
tion, the Aligarh Muslim University remained one of a small 

group of national universities in India. 

In its early years, the Aligarh ( lollege attracted patronage 
and recruited students from Muslim communities through 

out India, both Sunni and Shi a, as \\ ell as si srniiicant numbers 
of Hindus. Aside from some short lived efforts to include 
Arabic studies and Urdu as a language of instruction, the 
college followed the standard British imperial curriculum. 
Official British patronage became more significant after 1887, 
when ! i rid Vhmad 1 Ivan < ailed foi Vlti lira oppo ition to 
the newly founded Indian National Congress. In the twenti- 
eth century, Aligarh became an arena for opposing political 
tendencies among Muslims, including supporters of Indian 
nationalism and international socialism, as well as of Muslim 
separatism. Aligarh graduates achieved prominence as writ- 
ers, jurists, and political leaders. At the same time, Aligarh 
was the target of much opposition, particularly for its associa- 
tion with social reform and religious modernism. In 1906 the 
Aligarh Zenana Madrasa provided separate education for 
girls, and became the Aligarh Women's College in 1925. 

When Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan died in 1898, his succes- 
sors initiated a campaign to establish an autonomous, all- 
India educational system for Muslims under the auspices of 
an affiliating university. The university established in 1920, 
however, was confined to Aligarh and remained under British 
control. In response, Mohandas K. Gandhi and two Aligarh 
graduates, the brothers Shaukat 'Ali and Muhammad Ali, led 
a noncooperation campaign that established an alternative 
nationalist institution, thejami'a Milli'a Islamiya, outside the 
campus gates and subsequently relocated to Delhi. In the 
final years before independence and partition, Aligarh stu- 
dents toured India on behalf of the Pakistan cause, though 
others devoted themselves to the ideal of a united and 
secular India. 

Zakir Hussain, the first postindependence vice chancellor 

of Aligarh Muslim University, and. later president of India, 
succeeded in preserving the university's Muslim identity as a 
way of preparing Muslims for full participation in national 
life. A center for Urdu writers and historians of Mughal Ii idia, 
many of them Marxists, the university has so far been able to 
fend off efforts to undermine its role as an national center for 
Indian Muslims. 

See also Ahmad Khan, (Sir) Sayyid; Education; Mod- 
ernism; Pakistan, Islamic Republic of; South Asia, 
Islam in; Urdu Language, Literature, and Poetry. 


Graff, Yiolette. "Aligarh's Long Quest for 'Minority' Status: 

AMU (Amendment) Act. 1981." Economic and Political 

Weekly 25, no. 32 (1980): 1771-1781. 
Hasan, Mushirul. "Nationalist and Separatist Trends in 

Aligarh, 1915-47." The huh in I * and Social History 

Review 22, no. 1 (1985): 1-34. 
Lelyveld, David. Aliffirh's First Gen it Musi o i 

in British India. 2d ed. New Delhi: Oxford University 

Press, 1996. 


Allah is the Arabic equivalent of the English word God, and is 
the term employed not only among Arabic speaking Muslims 
but b) Christians and Jews and in Arabic translations of the 
Bible. A contraction of til 'Huh. meaning "the god," Allah is 
cognate with the generic pan-Semitic designation for "God" 
or "deity" (Israelite/Canaanile El, Akkadian ////) Ann is par 
ticularly close to the common Hebrew term Elohim and the 
less frequent Eloah. It is thus, strictly speaking, not a proper 
name but a title. 

In the Islamic context, as in Jewish and Christian usage, 
Allah refers to the one true God of monotheism. This is how 
the term occurs in the shahada or "profession of faith," the 
simplest, earliest, and most basic of Islamic creeds, in the first 
partofwhich the believer affirms that there is no "god"' (ilah) 
but "God" or "the god" (Allah). However, the shahada itself 
seems to imply that Allah was already known to the first 
audience of the Islamic revelation, and that they were called 
upon to repudiate other deities. And this is precisely the 
picture given in the Qur'an. "If you ask them who created 
them," the Qur' an informs the prophet Muhammad regard. 
inghis pagan critics, "they will certainly say 'Allah.'" (43:87; 
compare 10:31; 39:38). Pagan Arabs swore oaths by Allah (as 
witnessed at 6:109; 16:38; 35:42). 

Pre-Islamic Arabs believed in supernatura 
with God (10:18; 34:22), for whom they appeared to claim 
warrant from Allah. (See, for example, 6:148.) Indeed, Allah 
seems (in their view) to have headed a pantheon of pre- 
Islamic deities or supernatural beings, not altogether unlike 
El's rule over the Canaanite pantheon, and, like El, he seems 
to have been rather distant and aloof. While the data are 
fragmentary and open to some question, pre-Islamic Arabs 
seem to have paid more attention to Allah's daughters and to 
the //'//// (or genies) than to him. Even the Qur'an seems to 
concede genuine existence to a divine retinue (as at 7:191-195; 
10:28-29; 25:3). However, just as the Canaanite gods are 

This tilework at the tomb of Baba Qasim in Isfahan, Iran, spells Allahu Akbar, or "Cod is Great." Allah, the Arabic n. 
frequently in Islamic art and architecture in c alligraphic script. © Roger Wood/Corbis 

replaced by an angelic court in Israelite faith. Islam rejects the 
independent deities of pagan Arabia in favor of a very much 
subordinated "exalted assembly" (see 37:8; 38:69) that exists 
to carry out the decrees of the one true God, who is, says the 
Qur'an, nearer to the individual human than that person's 
jugular vein (50: 16). In this, as in other respects, Islam regards 
itself as a restoration of the religion taught by earlier prophets 
but marred by successive human apostasies (see 42:13). 

The Qur'an identifies Allah as the creator, sustainer, and 
sovereign of the heavens and the earth. (See, for example, 
13:16; 29:61, 63; 31:25; 39:38; 43:9, 87.) Following the 
scriptural text, Muslims characterize him by the ninety-nine 
"most beautiful names" (7:180; 17:110; 20:8), which serve to 
identify his attributes. (Eventually, repetition of and medita- 
tion upon these names became an important practice in the 
tradition of Sufi mysticism.)! he\ portray a being who is self 
sufficient, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, merciful yet just, 
benevolent but terrible in his wrath. The picture of Allah in 
the Qur'an employs distinctly anthropomorphic language 
(referring, for example, to the divine eyes, hands, and face), 
which, virtually all commentators have long agreed, are to be 
taken figuratively. 

Allah has revealed himself throughout history via mes- 
sages to various prophets by means of both the seemingly 
routine processes of nature and the periodic judgments and 

catastrophes directed against the rebellious. He will reveal 
himself even more spectacularly at the end of time when, as 
judge of humankind, he pronounces doom or blessing upon 

every individual v. ho has ever lived. The faith of Muhammad 

and the Qur'an is centered on absolute "submission" (islam) 
to his will. 

The Qur'an describes God as "Allah, one; Allah, the 
eternal refuge. He does not beget nor is He begotten, and 
there is none equal to Him" (112:1-4). In subsequent Islamic 
thought, such straightforward denial of divine family life 
(probably aimed at both the pre- Islamic pantheon and Chris- 
tian concepts of God the Father and God the Son) was 
expanded into a much broader doctrine of the divine unity, 
denoted by the non Quranic word taivhid ("unification" or 
"'making one"). Philosophers and theologians debated such 
questions as whether God's attributes were identical to God's 
essence, or whether, being multiple, they must be additional 
and in a sense external in order not to compromise the utter 
and absolute simplicity of the divine essence. They debated 
how the undeniably manifold cosmos had emerged out of the 
pure oneness of God. The issue of whether God's speech (i.e., 
the Qur'an) was coeternal with him, or subsidiary and cre- 
ated, rising to political prominence in the second and third 
centuries after Muhammad. The overwhelming personality 
depicted in the revelations of Muhammad became the Neces- 
sary Existent (wajib al-wujud), and the obvious dependence of 
life on his will (particularly apparent in the harsh desert 
environment of Arabia) was taken to point to the utter 
contingency of all creation upon a God who brought it into 
being out of nothing. Perhaps not unrelated was the rise to 
dominance in Islam of a doctrine of predestination or deter- 
minism, which had obvious roots in the Qur'an itsell (as, for 
example, at 13:27; 16:93; 74:31). In the meantime, though, 

while the philosophers were elaborating a view of Allah 
tending to extreme transcendence, Sufi theoreticians were 
emphasizing his immanence and experiential accessibility 
and, in practice, often breaking down the barrier between 
Creator and creatures — and occasionally shocking their fel 
low Muslims. 

The famous "Throne Verse" (2:255) offers a fine sum- 
mary of basic Islamic teaching regarding God: "Allah! There 
is no god but he, the Living, the Everlasting. Neither slumber 
nor sleep seizes him. His are all things in the heavens and the 
earth. Who is there who can intercede with him, except by his 
leave? He knows what is before them and what is behind 
them, while they comprehend nothing of his knowledge 
except as he wills. His throne extends over the heavens and 
the earth. Sustaining thern does not burden him, for he is the 
Most High, the Supreme." The depth of Muslim devotion to 
Allah is apparent virtually even-where in Islamic Hie. includ- 
ing even the use of elaborate calligraphic renditions of the 
word as architectural and arti 

See also Asnam; Qui- 3 an; Shirk. 


'1 il 1 / / f the Pi ' 1 islated by 

Michael E. Marmura. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young Uni- 
versity Press, 2000. 

Rahbar, Daud. God of Justice: A Study in the Ethical Doctrine of 
the Qur'an. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960. 

Watt, W. Mom in i // Pi , i ' ' / 1 

Extended Survey. 2d ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University 
Press, 1985. 

William-;, Wesley. "Aspects of the Creed of Imam Ahmad ibn 
Hanbal: A Study of Anthropomorphism in Early Islamic 
l"i i i i hi i U ' '/< East Studies 34, 

no. 3 (2002): 441-463. 

Daniel C. Peterson 



The interface between American cull ure and Islamic culture 
in the American Muslim community is a multifaceted issue. 
Understanding this interface entails exploring the influence 
of American culture on the Muslim community and how 
AmericanMu Inn >i v \uh- i< in < ulture. Another aspect of 

this interface is the influence of Muslims and Islamic culture 
on American culture and the American public's perception of 

Muslims and. Islam. 

The Muslim community itself is multilayered. A sizable 
portion of the Muslim community consists of those who do 
not attend a mosque, associate with other Muslim organiza- 
tions, and do not practice Islam. This group has little interest 
in maintaining Islamic culture and, therefore, they are the 
most willing to assimilate into American culture. Formanyof 
them, their identity as American is paramount. This article 
does not focus on this group, but instead focuses on those 
Muslims who identify and associate with Muslim groups. 

The Muslims who do associate with mosques and Muslim 
organizations are composed of immigrants (the majority 
being first generation), the children of immigrants (largely 
second generation) and converts (largely African American 
with significant numbers of Caucasian and Hispanic Ameri- 
cans). The dv namics of the interlace of American and Islamic 
culture in these groups differ. First-generation immigrants 
bring to America a set of customs shaped by the Muslim 
world, and these customs are affected by the American 
environment. Converts, already acculltiraled when they adopt 
Islam, modify their American culture to fit into the new 
environment of Islam. The children of immigrants, raised in 
America, are acculturated to two cultures and they must 
decide how each one fits. 

American Culture's Impact on Muslims 

In the early decades of the Muslim presence in America 
(1 ( >20 1970). Muslim immigrant groups, possibly pressured 
by the dominant paradigm of the melting pot, allowed for the 
inclusion of many American cultural practices (e.g. dancing 
the twist in the youth associations and Saturday night bingo 
in the mosque). Also, converts to the major heterodoxical 
Islamic groups, such as the Nation of Islam and the Moorish 
Science Temple, mixed freely Islamic and American practices 
(e.g. chairs in the mosque, hymns, and fasting during 

All of that changed beginning in the 1970s when large 
waves of newly arrived. Islamic-ally self confident immigrant:; 
opposed the earlier immigrants's "Americanized" mosques, 
and convert groups began trying to incorporate "authentic" 
Islam into their practice. The new paradigm of ethnic pride 
and mtiltictilttiralisrn gave greater acceptance and legitimacy 
to the "foreignness" of Muslim practice, and the new power 
ful trend of Islamic rev realism gave motiv ation to Muslims to 
retain their Islamic practice. The overtly American cultural 
practices disappeared in mosques and Muslim organizations. 

Thirty years later, the Muslim community has aged and 
mellowed, and a new consensus is emerging that American 
Muslim:-, should adhere to those aspects oflslam that are truly 
Islamic as opposed to old-world cultural practices, and then 

allow the adaptation of those aspects of American culture that 

;n leave a mosque in Washington, D.C. Muslims who 
with mosques are composed of immigrants, second- 
generation Americans, and converts to Islam. © Catherine 

are not contradictory to Islam. This is a new paradigm thai 
guards against changes in core religious practices while wel- 
coming the assimilation of certain American cultural prac- 
tices. The idea is to be fully Muslim and American. Overall, 
the impact of American culture on the Muslim community 
has been significant but it has not touched basic Islamic 
practice. In other words, Saturday night bingo has not re- 
tnrned to the mosque, but pizza is the favorite food at mosque 

The mosque. The greatest impact of the American ei 

ment on the Muslim communiu has been the transfor: 
of the role of the mosque and the imam. Muslim 
adopted a congregational model for the mosque as a self- 
governed community center, which is unlike the Muslim 
world where the mosque is simply a place of prayer, and the 
family and other institutions perform key cultural tasks. In 
America the mosque is a center for educating children, 
socialization, and major cultural events like marriages and 
funerals. For example, celebrating- the major Muslim holidays 
in the Muslim world is largely tied to the extended famih 

l America the mosque is a center of activities with 
tity dinners and festivals with games and gifts for 
children. American marriages are often events for the entire 
mosque community, as opposed to the extended family. 

The role of the imam in America has likewise changed 
dramatically. In the Muslim world the imam is simph the 
prayer leader, but the imam in America serves more as a 
pastor — much of his time spent in counseling, administering 
the mosque, and serving as spokesman for the mosque to the 

Marriage. Muslim marriage customs in America have changed 
but not significantly. 'One major shift is that the signing of the 
marriage contract is sometimes a public event and not a 
private family affair as in the Muslim world. The public 
signing event resembles an American wedding ceremony 
with some differences — the bride and groom sit and often 
face the congregation. Signing the contract and the tradi- 
tional wedding banquet Ui\diin,i) in America often occur on 
the same occasion, which is not alu ays the case in the Muslim 
world. Marriage gifts are often brought to the wedding 
banquet, which is the American custom, as opposed to the 
Muslim world where gifts are more often brought before the 

Arranged marriages among Muslim immigrants are still 
common but in many cases the marriage is i ml) half arranged: 
the son/daughter picks a mate and then informs the parents 
who begin the process of arranging the marriage. Muslim 
youth in America are certainly more involved in choosing a 
mate than their counterparts in the M uslirn countries. One of 
the results is that inlerethnic marriages are slow ly increasing. 
One of the persistent legal questions in the immigrant com- 
munity occurs when the son or daughter desires to marry a 
good Muslim of another ethnic group, and the parents 
prohibit the marriage. More and more imams are taking the 
side of the youth and pressuring the parents to relent. The 
traditional dowry (imihr) in America is usually a very reason 
able amount whereas in the Muslim world i lie dowry is often 
high because of its role in reinforcing status and class. For 
many individuals, especially those who do not have a family in 
America, Muslim matchmaking services are very popular. 
The matrimonial sections in Muslim magazines are widely 
used and Internet services, such as and, offer an array of services. 

Gender. The issue of gender equitj has become one of the 
most controversial issues in the Muslim community. About 
one-quarter of regular mosque participants in America are 
women, and in African American mosques over one-third of 
participants a re women. These percentages are extremely low 
for Christian churches but in comparison to the Muslim 
world, where women have no role in the mosque, this is a 
significant difference. Women are most active in administer 
ing the weekend school and other social events. Two-thirds 
of mosques allow women to sit on their governing board, but 

only one-half have had women sit on their board in the last 
five years. Many Muslim n omen. \\ ho are unhappy with the 
progress of American mosques, have moved outside the 
mosque to organize. On the local level, women have estab- 
lished numerous study groups. On the national level Muslim 
women's groups have been established, such as Muslim 
Women's League, North American Council for Muslim 
Women, and Muslim Women Lawyer's Committee for 
Human Rights (KARAMA). Some Muslim organizations 
have become more inclusive of women: In 2000 the Islamic 
Society of North America elected for the first time a female 
vice president, and there are a significant number of Muslim 
student associations, dominated by second-generation immi- 
grants, that have female presidents. The clear trend is that 


s growing. 

Youth. Youth bear the greatest pressure to assimilate Ameri- 
can culture, and as a result many immigrants and African 
Americans have ceased to practice Islam. The issue of the 
assimilation of Muslim youth is, therefore, a major problem 

in the eyes of most Muslims. The Muslim youth who have 
maintained their association with the Muslim community 
evince outward aspects of American culture such as dress, 

sports, food, and entertainment — Muslim youth groups have 
their own "Islamic" rap music, and comedy shows — but they 
have fit it all within the boundaries of Islam. Dancing is still 

present in Muslim youth groups, except that Imam 
rith Deen Muhammad's organization provides limited 
; where dancing is permitted. Imam Muhammad is 
the son and successor to Elijah Muhammad, founder of the 
Nation of Islam. In 1975, when Imam Muhammad took the 
reins of the Nation of Islam, he transformed the organization 
into a "mainstream" Islamic group. The organization has 
gone through many name changes, and the present name 
since 2002 is American Society of Muslims. It is the largest 
African American Muslim group. 

The loser in all this is not so much Muslim religious 
practice but ethnic cultural practice. Many youth are shed- 
ding their ethnic identity but maintaining a Muslim identity 

that supercedes all oilier identities, Muslim youth are, there 
fore, less interested in how Islam is practiced back in their 
parents's home countries and more interested in identifying a 
legitimate Islamic tradition that is scripturally based and 
relevant to life in America. Muslim youth best exemplify she 
new paradigm of retaining core Islamic practices while adopt- 
ing American culture. 

Holidays and patriotism. The Muslim community in America 
does not practice any of the American holidays as a group. 
Thanksgiving probably receives the most recognition from 

Muslims as a holiday. Christmas and Easier are tied closeh to 

Christianity -and therefore unacceptable. The national holi- 
days such as the Fourth of July and Memorial Day have not 
had any official recognition except in the American Society of 
Muslims under the leadership of Imam Muhammad. Patri- 
otic symbols such as the flag and patriotic rhetoric are largely 
I) i] from in isqut nil Mil [in th i in n pi i in 

for f mam Muhammad's organization. However, this is slowly 
changing, especially after the terrorism attacks of 1 1 Septem- 
ber 200L Man)- national Muslim advocacy "roups have ex 
tended Fourth of July greetings, and the Islamic Society of 
North America displayed American flags on their platform 
during their annual conference. Individual Muslims do ob- 
serve some of these holidays: Some have family dinners with 
turkey on Thanksgiving and even fewer lia\ e ( Christmas trees 
and let their children trick-or-treat on Halloween. 

Muslim perception of American culture. The vast major- 
ity of Muslims recognize the good of American culture — 
political and religious freedom, self-reliance, and business 
practices — but they are critical of aspects of American cul- 
ture, especially the moral laxity in sexual mores, and alcohol 
and drug consumption. In one study over one-third (37%) of 
Muslims agreed that America is immoral, while over half 
(54%) disagreed. Mosque leaders are even more disturbed: 67 
percent agree that America is immoral compared to 33 
percent who disagree (Baghy). 

The Muslim community is virtually unanimous in believ- 
ing that Muslims should he involved in the civic and political 
life of America — 93 percent oi .Muslims (Zogby) and 89 
percent of mosque leaders (Baghy) agree that Muslims should 
be involved in politics. Isolation from American society is 
firmh rejected. Yet a large portion of American Muslims ieel 
that Muslims are unwelcome in the public sphere: 57 percent 
of Muslims believe that the attitude of America toward 
Muslims is unfavorable since 1 1 September 200f (Zogby); 56 
percent of mosque leaders feel that American society is 
hostile to Islam (Baghy). 

Influences of Islam on American Culture 

Muslims and islam are no longer invisible in America — they 
have been given recognition and, in some respects, accept- 
ance by major shapers of culture. 

Presence of Islam. President Ronald Reagan was one of the 
first U.S. presidents to mention mosques alongside churches 
and synagogues as part of the religious fabric of America. 
Mention of Muslims with the other religions is commonplace 
now, especially after President George W. Bush visited a 
mosque and pronounced Islam a religion of peace soon after 
the terrorism attacks of 1 1 September. Iftar (meal at the end 
of the fasting day) dinners at the White House during 
Ramadan have become regular occasions since the mill 1990s. 

Perception of Muslims in the media. Movies have been less 
kind to Muslims and Islam. Ugly stereotyping of Muslims 
and Arabs in particular has a long history in 1 lolly-wood. Jack 

Shaheen has estimated that only 5 percent of movies that 
include Muslims or Arabs show a human image of them. 
Since the late 1970s the image has been that of terrorists — 
from Black Sunday (f 977) to Iron Eagles (1986) to The Siege 
(1998). Nevertheless signs of change have appeared as some 
of the more positive image:; of Muslims and islam in movies 
have appeared in the 1990s— Robin Hood Prince of Thieves 
(1991), 13th Warrior (1999), and Three Kings (1999). 

Negative stereotyping is reflected in the poor approval 
rating for Muslims in the American public, although signifi- 
cant changes have occurred since 1 1 September 200L Before 

1 1 September 2001 the public's approval of Muslims hovered 
around 25 percent, but ironically with. President George \V. 
Bush's strong endorsement of mainstream Islam, approval 
ratings shot up to a high of 47 percent in October 2001 but 
have since begun to dip (Waldman and Caldwell). 

Sufism. The most popular Muslim poet in America is Rumi 
and with this popularity has come some appreciation for 
Sufism. Sufi groups starling with ffazral Inayat Khan's Sufi 
Order in the West in the early 1900s and more recently a 
group led by Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani has had moderate 
success in attracting Americans, largely white. Although Sub 
groups are a small percentage of the total Muslim population 
in America, their more positive image has translated into 
greater acceptance in certain circles of intellectuals and 
New Agers. 

African American community. While Islam might have 

been invisible in Caucasian America, the impact of Islam on 
African American peoples has been substantial. The Nation 
of Islam (1930-1975), although a heterodoxical movement 
within Islam, still broughl the idea of Islam to millions of 
African Americans. Malcolm X, who left the Nation of Islam 
to embrace a more mainstream understanding- of Islam, is 
an icon in Mrican-American history. The minister Louis 
Farrakhan, w ho resurrected the Nation ol Islam in 1979, has 
maintained great popularity in the African American com- 
munity, especially among its youth. Imam W. Deen Muham- 
mad has garnered much respect due to his interfaith efforts. 
In light of this history, Islam has signified black pride and 
militancy for African Americans. 

Muslims have also played a key role in the 1990s effort to 
bring about a gang truce throughout the nation. Louis 
Farrakhan and Imam Jamil Al Amin (former ff. Rap Brown) 
were active in the gang summits that started in 1992 to broker 
a cease-fire between the i ii 1 a known a the Blood rid 
the Crips. The decline in gang violence through the f990s 
can be linked to these gang truces. 

African American culture. Islam has also impacted African 
American culture. One obvious manifestation is the adoption 
of Muslim names, undoubtedly an influence ofthe celebrities 
and sports figures who are Muslim or have Muslim parents — 
Muhammad Ali, fvareem Abdul Jabbar, Ahmad Rashad, Tupoc 

Shakur, and others. From the 1970s to the present, the names 
Jamal, Kareem, Ali, and Rashad i \a\ e become popular African 
American names. One of the top African American female 
names is now Aaliyah, obviously the result of the popularity 
of the singer by the same name. 

Other cultural manifestations occur in the hats and garb of 
African Americans, especially when they wantto express their 
black consciousness. Through the influence of the large 
number of Muslims in prisons, the impact of Islam might also 
be detected in popular African American culture in the baggy 
pants look and even in hugging among men, which is now a 
common form of greeting. The fact that major gangs call 
themselves "nations" can also be seen as an influence by the 
black nationalism of the Nation ol Islam. 

Hip-Hop. In entertainment Islam has had a tremendous 
impact on hip-hop culture. The ideology ol the Nation of 
Islam and the Five Percenters, both heterodoxies within 
Islam, have had the greatest influence, but some rappers have 
been influenced by mainstream Muslim leaders such as Imam 
Muhammad and Imam Jamil Al-Amin. Public Enemy and 
Chuck D, Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Big Daddy Kane, and 
Sister Sonljah are just a lev, names that mention in their lyrics 
Minister Farrakhan or the ideas of the Nation of Islam and 
the Five Percenters. Other rappers such as Mos Def, Q-Tip, 
Everlast, Styles of Beyond, Devine Styler, and Jurassic 5 have 
roots in the mainstream Muslim community. A few rap 
"roups sucli as Native Deen market themselves exclusively to 
the Muslir 

Communication. Muslim youth and certain Muslim groups 
have enthusiastically embraced the Internet. Major Web sites 
exist for news, information, books, and Islamic resources, 
such,,, and Web sites of Muslim Student Associa- 
tions are also numerous and full of useful information and 
resources. Muslims who are on the fringes of mosques and 
Muslim organizations are the most active in the use of the 
Web. Muslim women in particular have benefited immensely 
from the presence of a cyber-sisters community. Ideological 
groups are also quite active on the web. Many Muslims 
sometimes bemoan the proliferation of these sites and the 
emergence of the cyber mufti who have few links to the 
Muslim community. Many mosques, however, are far behind 
the curve — many do not have computers and others do not 
use them for a 

See also Americas, Islam in the; Farrakhan, Louis; 
Malcolm X; Muhammad, Warith Deen; Nation of 


Bagby, Ihsan; Perl, Paul M.; and Froehle, Bryan T. The 
Mosque in Amerk I P Wa ltin n J « 

Council of American Islamic Relations, 2001. 

Curtis IV, Edward E. Isliini in Black America: Identity, Libeni 
tion, and Difference in African . Imerican Islamic Thought. 
Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002. 

Eck, Diana L. A l\ei. Rcligiot ', i erica: How a "Christian 
Com/try' lias Becoim rk, f !>,'/,/• \lo\ Religiously Diverse 
Nation. New York: Harper San Francisco, 2001. 

Iladdad, Yvonne Yazbeck, and Esposito, John L. Muslims on 
the Americanization Path? New York: Oxford University 
Press, 2000. 

McAlister, Melani. Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. 
Interests in the Middle East, 1945-2000. Berkeley: Univer- 
sity of California Press, 2000. 

McCloud, Aminah Beverly. African American Islam. New 
York: Routledge, 1995. 

Shaheen, Jack G. Reel Bad , Irabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a 
People. New York: Olive Branch Press, 2001. 

Smith, Jane I. Islam in America. New York: Columbia Univer- 
sity Press, 1999. 

Waldman, Steven, and Caldwell, Deborah. "Americans' Sur- 
prising Take on Islam: A New Poll Shows That Ameri- 
cans Have Not Turned Anti-Islam." Beliefnet. 9 Janu- 
ary 2002. 
9732.html (2 Februrary 2003). 

Zogby International and Projecl Maps. "American Muslim 
Poll (Nov/Dec 2001)." Project Maps. 19 December 2001. 
http:// (2 Febru- 
ary 2003). 

Ihsan Bagby 


The Islamic presence in pre-Columbian times is a point of 
contention, with some writers asserting that Arab and West 
African Muslims settled in the Americas between the elev- 
enth and the fourteenth centuries; others dispute these asser- 
tions, citing a lack of archaeological and oilier historical 

The undisputed spread of Islam in the Americas started in 
the early sixteenth century with the arrival of a small number 
ofMoriscos (Muslims forced to adopt Christianity who may 
have maintained their faith in secret) from Spain, and mil- 
lions of enslaved West Africans. It is estimated that 1 5 to 2 
percent of the twelve to fifteen million Africans deported 
through the Atlantic slave trade were Muslim. Their prayers, 
fasts, refusal of pork and alcohol, circumcision, collecliii"- of 
zakat, mosques, Qur'anic schools, and importation of Qur'ans 
from Africa and Europe have been documented for countries 
as diverse as Peru, Brazil, the United States, Jamaica, Trini- 
dad, Guyana, and Cuba. Manuscripts written in Arabic have 
been recovered in several countries, most notably in Bahia, 
Brazil, where Muslims from Nigeria led a series of revolts 

between 1807 and 1835. There is evidence that the African 
Muslims succeeded in converting both enslaved and free 

people lo Islam, and accusations of islamic proselytism among 
Native Americans surfaced in the sixteenth century. West 
Africans maintained Islam in America during four centuries 
of slavery, but could not transmit the religion to the genera 
tions who were born in the Americas. With the end of the 
international slave trade in the late 1860s, Islam disappeared 
as an overtly practiced religion among people of African 
descent. However, cultural and linguistic traces remain today. 

In the nineteenth century, Islam emerged again in the 
Americas with the arrival of Asian and Arab Muslims. After 
the abolition of slavery in the British colonies in 1834, 
Muslim indentured laborers from India were introduced to 

Trinidad and Guyana, along with the much larger numbers of 
Hindus. Between 1890 and 1939 the Dutch brought inden- 
tured Muslim workers to Dutch Guiana (Surinam) from their 
colony in Indonesia. They now represent 75 percent of the 

Muslim population o! Surinam e. lit e country with the highest 
percentage of Muslims (about 25%) in the Americas. 

By the end of the nineteenth century, religious and politi- 
cal unrest, along with economic transformations in the Otto- 
man Empire, led to the emigration of Syrians and Lebanese, 
who established themselves throughout North and South 
America. Among them was a minority of Muslim Lebanese 
and S\ rians who migrated, concentrating their settlements in 
Brazil — which count the largi t du lin j ipulation in Latin 
America — Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, and Canada. In 
South and Central America most were traders, while in 
Canada, the majority were farmers. 

In the twentieth century new Muslim populations settled 
in the Americas. After World War I, a small number of 
followers of the Indian-founded Ahmadiyya sect settled in 
South America and the Caribbean; and Albanians and 
Yugoslavs migrated to the Canadian prairies. Palestinians 
started to arrive after 1948 and again, in successive waves, 
following the Middle Eastern wars of 1967 and 1973. 

Today, Islam continues to spread throughout the Ameri- 
cas through the natural growth of the existing Muslim popu- 
lation, conversions, and continued immigration from Muslim 
nations. Statistics are unreliable, but there are an estimated 
1.4 million Muslims living in Latin America and the Car- 
ibbean, 253,000 in Canada, and about 6 million in the 
United States. 

See also American Culture and Islam; United States, 
Islam in the. 


Diouf, Sylviane A. Servants of Allah: . Ifriam Muslims Enslaved 
in the Americas. New York: New York University 

Kettani, M. Ali. Muslim Minorities in the World Today. Lon 
don: Mansell Publishing Limited, 1986. 


n Diouf 


A] Andalus is the geographic term used to denote those areas 
of modern Spain that came under Muslim control in the 
Middle Ages. Today, the term (Spanish, ., liidiilucia) refers to a 
particular territory located in southern Spain. Al-Andalus or 
Muslim Spain (both terms will be used interchangeably), with 
its famous mosques, irrigated gardens, developments in po- 
etry, philosophy, and science, is often referred to as the 
cultural golden age of Islam. The actual Muslim presence 
there lasted 781 years (711M492 c.e.) and its influence on 
everything from architecture to science is still palpable. For 
the sake of convenience, what follows is divided into three 
parts: history and main cle\ elopments, cultural achievements, 
and the Jews of al-Andalus. 

History and Main Developments 

Prior to the arrival of the Muslims, Spain was under the 
control of the Visigoths, who maintained firm control of the 
region with the help of a rigid church hierarchy. In 71 1, Arab 
and Berber forces, under the leadership of Tariq b. Ziyad, 

deieated the Yisigothic King Rodrigo at the River Barbate. 
The Arab armies tried to move as far as France but were 
eventually repelled in 732 !u ( lharles Martel. During the first 
decades alter ', 11, al Andalus functioned as a frontier outpost 
with the Umayyad caliph in Damascus appointing its gover- 
nor. Around the year 750, however, a dynastic struggle in the 
East led to change in rule from the Umayyads to the Abbasids. 
Significantly, in /56, an Umayyad prince by the name of c Abd 
al-Rahman I arrived in Spain. He was able to gain sufficient 
political support there, thereby creating an independent and 
sovereign state, referred to as the Man\ anid th nasty, based in 

The high point of the Marw anid dynasty occurred during 
the rule of Abd al-Rahman III, who reigned for fifty years 
(912-961). This coincided with a period of stability after he 
had subdued revolting factions and stopped the advances of 
the neighboring Christians — something his predecessors had 
been unable to accomplish. He was also responsible for the 
construction of the monumental royal city, Madinat al- 
Zahra 5 , just outside of Cordoba. Under his rule, Cordoba 
became a true cosmopolitan center, rivaling the great cities of 
the Islamic East and far surpassing the capitals of Western 
Europe. After the death of Abd al-Rahman III, the central 
caliphate gradually fragmented into a number of smaller 
kingdoms (to, / ing iHfa), ruled by various "party kings" 
imuluk al-tawa'if). 

irly eight hundred-yeai 

The history of al-Andalus in the eleventh-century is one 
of gradual diminishmenl as various (Christian monarchs al 
tempted to encroach upon the area held by the Muslims, an 
area that they felt compromised the national and religious 
unity of Spain. This reconquering (Spanish, Reconquista) 
became so vigorous thai the various Muslim kingdoms had no 
choice but to seek help from the Almoravids, a dynasty based 
in North Africa. The result was that al-Andalus, for all intents 
and purposes, lost its independence, becoming little more 
situated in North Africa. 

if all Christians and Jew: 
iod that many Jews left Spain 

In 1 147, the puritanical Almohades, another dynasty based 
in North Africa , i it v a < i ed S pain. This dynasty was determined 
to put an end to the religious laxitj l hat they witnessed among 
the Andalusian intellectual and courtier classes. They de- 
manded, inter alia, the conver 
to Islam.. It was during this pel 
the majority went north to Christian territories. According to 
some modern commentators, the Almohade invasion sig- 
naled the end of one of the most fascinating and eclectic eras 
of world history. 

By the thirteenth century, al Andalus was essentially com- 
prised of Granada and its immediate environs. Here the 
Nasrid dynasty, with its royal palace in the al-IIarnra' 
(Alhambra), ruled as quasi vassals of the Christian king.. The 

Alhambra, with its open courts, fountains, and irrigated 
gardens, is today one of the best preserved medieval castles in 
Europe. In 1492, under the leadership of King Ferdinand of 
Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, the Reconquista was 
completed. All those who were not Christian (i.e., Muslims 
and Jews) were expelled from Spain. 

Cultural Achievements 

From a cultural and philosophical perspective, the achieve 
ments associated with the inhabitants of al-Andalus are 
unrivalled. The Marwanid capital, Cordoba, alone had over 
seventy libraries, which encouraged many great architects 
and scientists to settle there. The caliphs and rich patrons, in 
turn, established schools to translate classical philosophic ami 
scientific texts into Arabic. Although the center at Cordoba 
gradually fragmented into a number of kingdoms, there 
nevertheless ensued a rich intellectual, cultural, and social 
landscape that was grounded on die notion oitiihib, die polite 
ideal of cultured living that developed in the courts of 
medieval Islam. The nthib (pi., iidaba') was an individual 
defined by his social graces, literary tastes, and ingenuity in 
manipulating language. 

One of the main developments within Andalusian litera- 
ture was the / bshnh. The /;/ / / Inch seems to 
have originated in the ninth century, is a genre 

poetry whose main body is composed in classical Arabic with 
its ending written in vernacular, often in the form of a 
quotation ikharja). The main themes were devoted to love, 
wine, and panegyric; eventually, this genre proved popular 
among Sufis (e.g., ibn Arabi). The muwashshah was also 
a popular genre among non-Muslims, especially among 
Hebrew poets. 

Al-Andalus is also associated with some of the most 
famous names of Islamic intellectual history. Unlike the great 

majority of philosophers in the Muslim East, the overarching 
concern of Andalusian Islamic thinkers was political science. 
Questions that they entertained were: What constitutes trie 
perfect state? How can such a state be realized? What is the 
relationship between religion and the politics? And, what 
should the philosopher, who finds himself in an unjust stale. 
do? Another important feature of Islamic philosophy in al- 
Andalus was an overwhelming interest in intellectual mysti- 
cism, which stressed that the true end of the individual was 
the contact (ittisal) between the human intellect and the 
Divine Intellect. 

Philosophy in al-Andalus reached a high-point with Ibn 
Bajja (d. 1 1 3 9). His Tadbir al-mutawahhid (Governance of the 
solitary) examines the fate of a lone individual who seeks truth 
in the midst of a city that is concerned primarily with financial 
gain and carnal pleasures. Such an individual must, according 
to I hi i Bajja, seek out other like-minded indh iiluals and avoid 
discussing philosophy with non-philosophers. Ibn Tufayl (d. 
1185) picks tip this theme in his philosophical novel ILiyy ibn 
Yaqzan. The goal of this work is to show that the unaided 
human intellect is capable of discoi ering Truth without the 
aid of divine revelation. Ibn Tula} 1. according to tradition, 
was also responsible lor encouraging the young Ibn Rushd (d. 
1198) to write his commentaries on the works of Aristotle. 
Within this context, Ibn Rushd wrote not one but three 
> virtually the entire Aristotelian corpus, 
l their Latin translations, were the 
staple of the European curriculum until relatively recently. 

Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, was also a prominent feature 
of the intellectual and cultural life of al Andalus. In fact, one 
of the most important Sufis, Ibn Arabi (d. 1240), was born in 
Alurcia in southeastern Spain. After a mystical conversion as a 
teenager, he set out on a life of asceticism and wanderings. 
Ibn Arabi essentially interpreted the entire Islamic tradition 
(jurisprudence, the Qur'an, hadith, philosophy) through a 
mystical prism. 

The Jews of al-Andalus 

The culture of al-Andalus would also have a tremendous 
impact on non Muslim communities living (here. The adab 
ideal (mentioned in the previous section) proved to be very 
attractive to the local population (both Jewish and Christian), 
who adopted the cosmopolitan ideals of Islamicate culture, 
including the use of Arabic. Within the history of Jewish 
ch ilization, 1 Andalus (II / lolds a special 

place. Legend has it. that the Jews not onh \\ elcomed, Inn also 
physical!) helped, the Muslims conquer the oppressive Visigoth 
rulers. The cooperativeness of the Jews and their ability to 
integrate into Andalusian Arab society subsequently created 
an environment in which Jews flourished. Arabic gradually 
replaced Aramaic as the language of communication among 
Jews: By adopting Arabic (although they would write it in 
Hebrew characters, and todaj this Is called Judeo-Arabic), 
jev.s inherited a rich cultural and scientific vocabulary. It was 
during the tenth century, for example, that Jews first began to 
write secular poetry (although written in Hebrew, it em- 
ployed Arabic prosody, form, and style). 

The names of famous Jews who lived in al-Andalus reads 
like a "who's who" list of Jewish civilization. Shmuel ha- 
Nagid (993-1055), for example, became the prime minister 
(wazir) of Granada. His responsibilities included being in 
charge of the army (i.e., having control over Muslin 1 soldiers), 
in effect becoming one of the most powerful Jews between 
Biblical times and the present day. His poetry recounting 
battles is among the most expressive of the tradition. The fact 
that a Jew could attain such a prominent position within 
Muslim society reveals much about Jewish Muslim relations 
in Spain. Other famous Hebrew poets included Moshe ibn 
Ezra (d.1138) and Judah Halevi (d.1141), whose sacred po- 
etry is still part ol the lev, ish liturgy. Al Andalus was also the 
birthplace of the most famous Jewish philosopher: Moses 
Maimonides (d.1204), who attempted to show the compati- 
bility between religion and philosophy In arguing that the 
former was based not on superstition, but rational principles. 

In sum, al-Andalus was not only a region, but also repre- 
sented a way of life that Muslims and Jew s look back al with 
fondness. With its rich contributions to science, literature, 
architecture, and interiaiih relations, al Andalus played a 
prominent role in Islamic history. 

See also European Culture and Islam; Judaism and 


Ashtor, Eliayahu. The Jews of Moslem Spurn. Philadelphia: 
Jewish Publication Society of America, 1973-1979. 

Brann, Ross. The Compunctious Poet: Cultiii i ' <b m \ u I 
Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Spain. Baltimore, Md.: Johns 
Hopkins University Press, 1991. 

Ibn Arabi. Sufis of Audidusiu: The Rub til qtids tiutJ til Diirratai 
fakhira of Ton 'Arabi. Translated by R. W. J. Austin. 
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971. 

[I ii I i| ' i ,i hi d 

and translated by Miguel Asm Palacios. Madrid: n.p., 1946. 

Ibn Tufayl. Hayy ibn Yaqzan: A Philosophical Tale. Translated 
by Lenn E. Goodman. Los Angeles: Gee Tee Bee, 1983. 

Kennedy, Hugh. Muslim Spain: A Political History of al- 
Andalus. London: Longman, 1996. 


Menocal, Maria Rosa; Scheindlin, Raymond P.; and Sells, 
Michael, eds. The Literature of al-Andalus. Cambridge, 
U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 

Watt, W. Montgomery. A History of Islamic Spain. Edin 
burgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1965. 

Aaron Hughes 


The word "angel" appears frequently in the Qur'an, having 
entered the Arabic language (in pre Islamic limes) as a loan 
from Aramaic or Hebrew, possibly via Ethiopic, and so 
indicating Christian as well as Jewish cultural influences. In 
any case the word has always been accepted as an exact 
equivalent of the Greek angelos, angel or messenger, used in 
pre-Christian times to define the functions of certain "mes- 
sengers of the gods" such as Hermes or Iris (the rainbow). 
The remarkable homogeneity of "Abrahamic" Jewish/ 
Christian/Islamic angelology cannot convincingly be traced 
to a "Mosaic" source but derives very obviously from 
Zoroaslrian influences on Judaism during the Bain Ionian Exile. 

Despite the unanimity of the Qur'an, hadith, and sunna 
on the doctrine of belief in angels, a certain ambiguity arises 
when these beings are considered in both theology and 
metaphysics. How precisely does angelic nature situate itself 
between earth and heaven, between human and divine? It 
may be said that monotheism simply cannot do without a 
means of immanence, lest the gulf of God's transcendence 
end by severing all possible relations between the two levels 
of reality. Put simply, the angels provide a third term, a 
metaphorical bridge or ladder between earth and heaven. 
Thus the Prophet spoke of each raindrop having its angel, 
and of the angels as messengers hearing God's revelation to 
humans, and human prayers to God. The task of angelic 
theology consists in justifying this metaphysical "need" with 
out detracting from God's ominipotence and unity. 

The standard Islamii iiigek >1< >gy is based on both Qur'anic 
and extra-Qur'anic tradition; for instance "the Spirit" (til 
ruh) is mentioned in the Qur'an, but is identified by tradition 
with Metatron, the Jewish angel "nearest to the Throne." 
The angel of death is mentioned (Q. 32:1 1) but not named; 
tradition knows him as 'Izra'il. Jibril (libra'il) (Gabriel) is 
named three times, Mika'il (Alikal) (Michael) once. Israfil, 
who will blow the trumpet at Resurrection, appears neither in 
the Qur'an nor hadith, but became very popular — and sym- 
bolically necessary to form a quaternity of great archangels, 
under the Spirit and above the countless ranks of the heavenly 
host. Munkar and Nakir, the angels who weigh or question 
the souls of the dead in their gra^ es, are liken ise absent from 
canonical sources but much discussed I)} established aulhori 
ties and universally accepted by believers. The following 
might represent a traditional Islamic angiography: 

From the soles of his feet to this head, Israfil, angel of the 
Day of Judgment, has hairs and tongues over which are 
stretched veils. He glorifies Allah with each tongue in a 
thousand languages, and Allah creates from his breath a 
million angels who glorify Him. Israfil looks each day and 
each night tow ard Hell, approaches without being seen, and 
weeps; he grows thin as a bowstring and weeps bitter tears. 
His trumpet or horn has the form of a beast's horn and 
contains dwellings like the cells of a bee's honeycomb; in 
these the souls of the dead repose. 

Mika'il was created by God five thousand years after 
Israfil. He has hairs of saffron from his head to his feet, and his 
wings are of green topaz. On each hair he has a million faces 
and in each face a million eyes and tongues. Each tongue 
speaks a million languages and from each eye falls seventy 
thousand tears. These become the Kerubim who lean down 
over the rain and the flowers, the trees and fruit. 

Jibra'il was created live hundred years after Mika'il. He 
has sixteen hundred wings and hair of saffron. The sun is 
between his eyes and each hair has the brightness of the moon 
and stars. Each day he enters the Ocean of Light 360 times. 
When he conies forth, a million drops fall from each u ing to 
become angels who giorif) Cod. When lie appeared to the 
Prophet to reveal the Qur'an, his wings stretched from the 
East to the West. His feet were yellow, his wings green, and 
he wore a necklace of rubies or coral. His brow was light, his 
face luminous; his teeth were of a radiant brightness. Between 
his two eyes were written the words: "There is no god but 
God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God." 

The angel of death, 'Izra'il, is veiled before the a 
of God with a million veils. His immensity is vaster than the 
heavens, and the East and West are between his hands like a 
dish on which all things have been set, or like a man who has 
been put between his hands that he might eat him, and he eats 
of him what lie wishes; and thus the angel of death turns the 
world this way and thai , just as men turn their money in their 
hands. He sits on a throne in the sixth heaven. He has four 
faces, one before him, one on his head, one behind him, and 
one beneath his feet. He has four wings, and his body is 
covered with innumerable eyes. When one of these eyes 
closes, a creature dies. 

In part from Greek philosophy, especially neo- 
Islamic tradition elaborated a cosmic angelology based on the 
celestial Spheres — as for instance in the many versions of the 
Prophet's mir'aj or Night Ascension into the Heavens, where 
he learns the ritual of prayer from the angels in their ranks. 
He is at first carried by the Buraq, a strange hybrid of mule, 
angel, woman, peacock, and then accompanied by Jibra'il. 
Even this greatest angel, however, cannot accompany Mu- 
hammad to "the Lote Tree of the Farthest Limit" (that is, the 
beatific vision of theophany). This symbolizes the theological 
premise that angels, although more perfectly spiritual than 
humans, are in fact ontologically less central. God orders the 

^^.,^<xSP'>vV-- J ,^>o^V l :- : b- 

This Persian miniature depicts Adam among the angels. According to the Qur'an, God demands 
that the angels worship Adam, even though they are closer to the divine than Adam is. When the 
angel Iblis refuses to bow to Adam, Iblis falls from Cod's grace and becomes Satan. © Reunion des 
MuseES Nationaux/Art Resource, NY 

islam and the Muslim World 

angels to bow and worship Adam (in a legend probably 
adapted from the heretical Christian ""Adam and Eve Books",! 
even though Adam is created of clay and the angels of 
light. The angel Iblis refuses to acknowledge the divine in 
the human, and thus falls from grace and becomes Satan. 
(The sufi al-Hallaj therefore praised Iblis as the only true 
monotheist!) As an angel Iblis should be "made of light, but 
in some versions he is described as a great jinni and therefore 
of a fiery nature. The /////// constitute a different class of 
supernatural beings, also attested in the Qur'an; some of 
them were converted to true faith by Solomon or Muh a m m ad 

<Abd al-Karim al-Jili (a Sufi influenced by Ibn 'Arabi) 
describes the angelic Spheres Urns; The first heaven is that of 
the Moon. The Hoi) Spirit is here, "so that this heaven might 
have the same relation to earth as spirit to body." Adam 
dwells here in silvery-white light. The second heaven is that 
of Mercury (identified with the Egyptian Hermes and the 
prophets Idris and Enoch). Here the angels of the arts and 
crafts reside bathed in a graA lnminousness. The third heaven, 
that of Venus, is created from the imagination and is the 
locale of the World of Similitudes, the subtle forms of all 
earthly things, the source of dreams and visions. The prophet 
Joseph lives here in yellow light. The heaven of the Sun is 
created from the light of the heart; Israfil presides over a host 
of prophets in a golden glow. The heaven of Mars, of the 
death-angel 'Izra'il, is blood-red with the light of judgment. 
That of Jupiter is blue with the light of spiritual power 
(himma) and is lorded over by Mika'il. Here reside the angels 
of mercy and blessing, shaped as animals, birds, and men; 
others appear, in Jili's words, "as substances and accidents 
which bring health to the sick, or as solids and liquids that 
supply created beings with food and drink. Some are made 
half of fire and half of ice. Here resides Moses, drunk on the 
wine of the revelation of lordship. "The seventh heaven (first 
to be created from the substance of the First Intelligence) is 
that of Saturn, and consists of Black Light, symbolic of///////', 
annihilation in the divine Oneness. 

The grandeur of this cosmic vision is given a metaphysical 
dimension by the Persian philosopher Ibn Sina (Avicenna) 
who, speaking of the angels, says, "The soul must grasp the 
beauty of the object that it loves; the image of that beauty 
increases the ardor of love; this ardor makes the soul look 
upward. Thus imagination of beauty causes ardor of love, 
love causes desire, and desire causes motion" on the level 
both of the Spheres (which are drawn in love toward their 
Archangel Intellects) and of human souls (who are drawn in 
love toward their guardians or personal angels). 

On the fringes of Islamic orthodoxy such mystical 
angelology shaded into occultism. Elaborate concordances of 
angelic correspondences, names, powers, symbols, and the 
like evolved out of the late classical synthesis (e.g., those 
described in the Egyptian Magical Papyri). Amulets were 

constructed, evocations and seances performed. Like their 
medieval and Renaissance counterparts in Europe, Islamic 
hermeticists sought and practiced the "angelic conversation." 
At its highest level of sophistication this magical angelology 
aims at no benefit other than existential participation in the 
divine or angelic consciousness. "By philosophy man realizes 
the virtual characteristics of his race. He attains the form of 
humanity and progresses on the hierarchy of beings until in 
crossing the straight way (or 'bridge') and the correct path, he 
becomes an Angel" (Brethren of Putin [Ri i b] 

An artistic representation of Muhammad's ascent to heaven 
appears in the volume one color plates. 

See also Mi'raj; Religious Beliefs. 


Corbin, Henry. Avicenna and the I 'isionary Recital. Translated 
by Ralph Manheim. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University 
Press, 1969. 

Hallaj, Mansur. The Tawasin. Translated by A. A. at- 
Tarjumana. Berkeley, Calif: Diwan Press, 1974. 

Rumi, Alaulana Jalalnddin. The Mathnaeci. Translated by 
Reynold A. Nicholson. London: Luzac & Co., 1978. 

Wilson, Peter Lamborn. Angels. London: Thames & Hud- 
son, 1980. 

Peter Lamborn II ikon 


The term "Arabia" has been variously applied in both modern 
and ancient times to refer to a vast territory stretching from 
the borders of the Fertile Crescent in northern Syria to the tip 
of the Arabian Peninsula and from the borders of the Euphrates 
to the fertile regions of the Transjordan. For the ancients, 
this vague term, "Arabia," referred to the dwelling places of 
the varieties of South Semitic speakers lumped together 
under the term "Arab." For speakers of Hebrew and Aramaic, 
the term Arab ('arab) carried the semantic notion of the desert 
or the wilderness ('arabah), since the Arabs they encountered 
were primarily the nomadic and seminomadic desert d« ellers 
engaged in long-distance commerce, animal husbandry, or 
supplying cavalry troops to imperial armies. The result is that 
ancient textual references to Arabia and its inhabitants, the 
Arabs, are both inconsistent and imprecise in terms of geo- 
graphic boundaries, ethnic identity, and language use. The 
meager textual evidence available to us shows us that many of 
the northern Arabs used Aramaic and Hebrew as well as 
varieties of Arabic in pre-Islamic times. After the rise of 
Islam, however, the Arabic of northwest Arabia, the region of 
the Hijaz, became the dominant language of the Arabs, and it, 
along u ills its cognate dialects, formed the Arabic known today. 

Religion of 
Pre-lslamic Arabia 

t Christiani 

Location of Christianity, Judaism, the Makkan religion and 
Zoroastrianism in pre-lslamic Arabia. XNR Productions/Gale 

The geography and natural ecology of the Arabian penin- 
sula has affected both the culture and the history of Arabia. It 
is bounded in the north by a desert of soft sand, the Nafud, as 
well as a desert in the south, the Rub' al-Khali, the so-called 
Empty Quarter. Both the Red Sea on the west and the Gulf 
on the east are barriers to entry with few natural ports. There 
are no permanent water-courses in Arabia and only scattered 
oases in the interior. The ancient geographers used the term 
mittini iiniiiuih! lor Arabia, ant I even when using Arabia Felix, 
"Happy Arabia," for the south, they intended some irony. Its 
average rainfall is less than three inches per year, and much of 
that falls within a period of just four or five days. Because of 
i he forbidding landscape and the harsh climate, for much of 
Arabia's history, it resisted successful invasion. Such harsh 
conditions, however, have provided refuge for those fleeing 
persecution and those seeking the economic opportunities of 
long-distance trading. Trade was assisted because Arabia was 
the home of the domestication of the West Asiatic camel, the 
dromedary, and the invention, around the beginning of the 
first millennium c.e., of the North Arabian camel saddle, 
which enabled camels to be used for cavalry warfare as well as 
for transporting trade goods. 


Historical knowledge of Arabia goes back to the Greek 
historian Herodotus, to a few Akkadian texts, and to the 

Bible, but sound historical records <ml\ come from the period 

of Roman domination of the eastern Mediterranean. Much 
legendary material has influenced the writings of the early 
history of Arabia, particularly the biblical legends, which hold 
that the Amelikites were the first "Arabs." This legend is 
adopted by Arabs themselves, who link themselves to the 
Israelite soldiers who annihilated the Amelikites and settled 
in the Hijaz in their stead. R. Dozy and D. S. Margoliouth 
elaborated a secularized version of the biblical legends to 
make Arabia the Semitic prototypical home and Arabic the 
prototypical Semitic language. Associated with this theory is 
the so-called desiccation theory of Arabia, which holds that 
Arabia was lush and verdant in prehistorical times, only 
becoming dry later, driving out the Semitic inhabitants into 
the Mediterranean basin. While modern geological explora 
tion of Arabia has substantiated a shift in climate in the 
peninsula from more wet toward dry, there is no evidence to 
substantiate any of the theories that Arabia was the original 
home of the Semites or that all Semitic languages derive 
from Arabic. 

According to a report that combines inscriptional evi- 
dence and legend, Arabia was the temporary capital of 
Nabonidus (556-539 b.c.e.), the last ruler of Babylon. In the 
third year of his reign, he invaded the Hijaz as far as Yathrib 
(Medina), and dominated the famous Arabian caravan cities 
in the northwest quadrant. Some scholars see his motives as 
economic, while others dismiss the historicity of the whole 
event as part of a Jewish midrashic invention. 


Among the important pre-lslamic peoples of Northwest 
Arabia were the Nabataeans, who, by the time of the arrival of 
Roman imperial presence in the eastern Mediterranean, 
dominated the region's trade from around Damascus to the 
Hijaz. They had been pastoral nomads who had settled in 
their heartland around Petra. The Nabataeans plied their 
trade through the areas of Transjordan, across the Wadi 
'Arabah to Gaza and al-'Arish (Rhinocolura). There is also 
evidence that they used the interior route of the Wadi Sirhan 
to carry goods to Bostra for distribution to Damascus and 
beyond. Nabataean wealth and influence attracted the Romans 
into an unsuccessful invasion of Arabia in 26 b.c.e. un- 
der the leadership of Caesar Augustus's Egyptian prefect, 
Aelius Gallus. The Nabataeans were able to resist Roman 
domination until 106 c.e., when Arabia Nabataea became a 
Roman province. In later history, the name "Nabataean" 
became identified with irrigation and agriculture, because the 
Nabataeans are credited with the development of hydraulic 
technology in the region. In modern Arabic, "Nabataean" 
(iiabati) refers to vernacular poetry in the ancient style. 

Most modern historians regard the Nabataeans as Arabs, 
but the picture is more complex and illustrative of the prob- 
lems of ethnic identification in the pre-lslamic period. The 
Nabataeans were philhellenes, using Greek art and culture, 

and Aretas III issued coins with Greek legends after 82 b.c.e. 
They used a form of Arabic as their language for trade within 

the Arabian peninsula, « riling it down in a modified Aramaic 
script that influenced the development of the North Arabian 
alphabetic script. They acted as a culture-bridge between the 
Arabian interior and the Roman Hellenized Mediterranean, 
and, depending on who was reporting, they could present a 
different face to different peoples. Creek, Aramaic, or Arabic. 

Jews had been inhabitants of Arabia from biblical times, 
but the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 c.e. sent 
larger numbers into Arabia. Around this time the apostle Paul 
spent time in Arabia after his conversion to Christianity, 
possibly to recruit converts, as did another Pharisee. Rabbi 
Akiba, who went to Arabia to obtain support for Simon Bar 
Kochba in the Second Roman War in 132 c.e. Some Jews 
formed independent communities in Arabia, such as the small 
enclaves of priests, who kept themselves isolated to avoid 
ritual contamination so that they would be ready under 
Levitical strictures to resume their duties if the Temple 
should be rebuilt. Most, however, seem to have joined exist 
ing communities comprised of Jews and non-Jews along the 
trade routes stretching from the Hijaz to Yemen. The most 
prominent of these settlements was the city of Yathrib, 
know n in both Aramaic ami Arabic as Medina. 

Roman Arabia 

By 106 c.e., the Romans dominated most of the former 
territories of the Nabataeans and the adjacent Syrian cities of 
Gerasa and Philadelphia (modern Jarash and Amman in 
Jordan), cteati n p in broi >;h the formal annexation of 
the Nabataean kingdom under the Roman emperor Trajan. 
This province, known as Provincia Arabia, was bounded by 
the western coast of the Sinai Peninsula, the present Syrian- 
Lebanese border to a line south ofDamascus, and the eastern 
oa t ol lire I'ti ii L ; i t ' ' in ihellijaz) 

Gaza prospered as a major seaport and outlet for the prov- 
ince's commerce. This trade continued under Roman domi- 
nation, and the borders were fortified by semipermeable lines 
of fortifications and client states. Under the Romans, Bostra 
(Bozrah; now Busra ash-Sham) in the north became the 
capital around a legionary camp. Petra remained a religious 
center until the penetration of Christianity in the area. The 
construction of a highway, the Via Traiana Nova, linking 
Damascus, via Bostra, Gerasa, Philadelphia, and Petra, to 
Aelana on the Gulf of Aqaba, set the border of Arabia {Limes 
Aral'irns) along the lines of an ancient biblical route. Paved by 
Claudius Severus, the first governor of Provincia Arabia in 
about 1 14 c.e., it improved communication and established a 
modicum of control over the influx of pastoral nomads into 
settled territory. More importantly, the road insured the 
n prosperity of the cities along the route. 

At the end of the third century, the Roman emperor 

Diocletian dh ideal Arabia into a northern prot ince, enlarged 


Treasury, Petra, Jordan; built by the Nabataeans between the 
third century b.c.e. and the first century c.e. The Nabataeans were a 
wealthy, important tribe of the pre-lslamic era who had been 
nomadic and then settled around Petra. Their culture bridged 
Arabic and Hellenic cultures, incorporating elements of both. The 

by the Palestinia; 

is of Auranitis ai 



Bostra as the capital, and a southern province, with Petra as 
capital. The southern province, united to Palestine by the 
emperor Constantine I "the Great," became known as 
Palaestina Salutaris (or Tertia) when detached again in 357 
and 358 c.e. The cities of both provinces enjoyed a marked 
revival of prosperity in the fifth and sixth centuries and fell 
into decay only after the Arab conquest after 632 c.e. 

During the period in which the Judaean Desert finds were 
deposited in the caves, the area containing the discovery sites 
remained off the main conduits of trade and communication, 
and it is their remoteness that, for the most part, provided 
their value as retreats from (lie demands of the central settled 
world. The practice of using the Judaean Desert caves as 
genizot, religious treasuries, continued from the time of the 
Roman Wars through as late as the eleventh century c.e. The 
presence of Byzantine Greek and Arabic texts indicates that 
the local populations both knew of the existence of the caves 
and made use of them as depositories for important docu- 
ments. This fact has had important implications in discus- 
sions about tire presence of copies of lire "Damascus Covenant"' 
found in the Cairo Genizah. None of the texts found at the 
Judaean Desert discovery sites mentions Provincia Arabia or 
other geographic terms associated with Arabia. The texts, 
particularly the lexis from the Byzantine ami Islamic periods, 
indicate that the inhabitants of the region, who deposited the 
finds, were well connected not only with Palestine but also 
with Egypt and the larger world of the Mediterranean. 

Southern Arabia 

The southern portion of Arabia, known generic-ally as the 
Yemen, had ancienl connections with Africa, India, and the 
Far East, as well as the Mediterranean. It was culturally and 
linguistically connected with the Horn of Africa. Among the 
theories of the Arabian origin of the Semites, some have cited 
the presence of speakers of a Semitic language unlike Arabic 
in Yemeni highlands. Additionally, the relationship between 
South Arabian and Ethiopic languages points to continuous 
contacts between the two areas. Attempts, however, to devise 
a comprehensive ethnographic categorization of the inhabi- 
tants of Arabia have so far failed. This is in part due to 
problems with categorization itself (what is a Semite, for 
example) and. in part due to the paucity of evidence. Relying 
on Arabian histories and indigenous theories of ethnography 
are problematic, because all were written after the rise of 
Islam, which advances the religious notions of the family 
relations! lip among all Arabs and promotes the elaboration of 
the explanation of that relationship through genealogy. The 
so-called Table of Nations from Genesis 10 was invoked by 
earh Islamic scholars, and tiie figures ofjoktan, Ilazarmaveth, 
and Sheba are identified with Galium, Iladramawt, and the 

An increasing amount of archaeological and inscriptional 
evidence support the meager and legendary historical mate- 
rial surrounding the histories and influence of at least four 
major kingdoms in southern Arabia, the Sabaeans, or king- 
dom of Sheba; the Minaeans; the kingdom of Qataban; and 
the kingdom of Hadramawt. These kingdoms were sup- 
ported by a combination of trade and agriculture. Elaborate 
aqueducts, dams, and terracing helped sustain these king- 
doms as well as giving evidence of their ability to marshal 
considerable resources for their construction and mainte- 
nance. We do not know the reasons for the demise of these 
kingdoms. The Qur'an (34:15-16) attributes the breaking of 
the dam atMa'rib in the kingdom of the Sabaeans as divine 
retribution for their sins. Secular theories attribute the de- 
mise of organized agriculture in the southern region to the 
combined factors of the repeated breaking of dams and 
waterworks and the rise of the influence of Ethiopia in 
southern Arabia. 

Itis probably from the time of the breaking of the Ma'rib 
dam that some southern Arabian tribes migrated north, 
intermixing with the Arabs of the Hijaz in many places, 
including the city of Yathrib/Medina. This migration may 
also be linked w nh increasing economic opportunities in the 
northern part of Arabia resulting from the domestication of 
the camel, the invention of the North Arabian camel saddle. 
and the increasing use of camel cavaln forces in the armies of 
the Roman and Persian empires. 

Premodern Arabia possessed little arable land, but south- 
ern Arabia was the habitat for frankincense and myrrh, the 
ns from conifers found in Arabia and the Horn 

of Africa. Because southern Arabia was the home of those 
much-sought-after aromatics and the trans-shipment point 
for Asian and African trade goods, including slaves, it was a 
much desired location for colonies and extensions of em- 
pires. These products were sought as luxury trade goods 
from as early as Old Kingdom Egypt, when this was known as 
the land of Punt. They were used for funerary and liturgical 
ceremonies, often in large quantities. The use offrankincense 
is attested in the biblical offerings mentioned in Leviticus 
2:14-16 and 24:7, and also in the Talmud as a medicine and a 
painkiller. In Christian liturgy, incense « as an important part 
of the celebration of the mass. Trade in aromatics, gold, and 
luxury items from Africa and India made the west coast of 
Arabia the conduit to the Mediterranean and linked southern 
Arabia with the settled areas of Syria. 

Knowledge of Persian interest in Arabia begins with 
Darius I (r. 52 1-485 b.c.e.). He sent an exploratory expedition 
from India to the Red Sea, probably to increase trade. 
Greek interest was stimulated first by Alexander the Great 
and Nearchus of Crete, but Alexander died in 328 b.c.e., 
just before executing plans to conquer the peninsula. This 
interest prompted the Greek naturalist and philosopher 
Theophrastus (c. 372-287 b.c.e.) to describe South Arabia, 
providing one of the earliest histi irical accounts. The Ptolemies 
of Egypt, successors to Alexander's rule, pursued ambitions in 
the Red Sea. The Syrian Seleucids promoted the use of the 
northern routes to India, probably in an attempt to diminish 
Eg\ ptian and Arab domination of eastern luxury goods. The 
establishment of the Parthian stale in the mid-third century 
b.c.e. weakened the Seleucids, but Antiochus III was still 
strong enough to conduct an expedition in 204 and 205 
against Gerrha on the Arabian shore of the Persian Gulf. 

In the second and first centuries b.c.e., major changes took 
place in the economy and power of the southern kingdoms of 
Arabia. The Mediterranean world learned the secret of the 
use of the monsoon trade winds to navigate to India, and 
mountain tribes began invading the settled kingdoms. 1.H the 
end of the first century b.c.e., the Sabaean kingdom was under 
the rule of the tribe of Hamdan, and the kingdoms of Ma'in 
and Qataban were destroyed. Roman attempts to conquer 
Arabia Felix failed, but Rome's influence was extended first 
through the Nabataeans and later through Egyptian and 
Ethiopic Christianity. 

Sometime around 50 ce., an anonymous author wrote the 
Peri pins uf the Erythraean Sea, an account in Greek of the 
ethnography and trade in the Red Sea. In the middle of the 
second century ce., the geographer Claudius Ptolemy (fl. 
127-151 ce.) wrote a detailed description of Arabia from the 
perspective of Roman interests in the region. While some 
scholars identify some sites mentioned by Ptolemy with 
modern Arabian cities, like Macoraba as Mecca and Yallirippa 
as Yathrib/Medina, others discount this identification and 
claim that knowledge of ancient Arabia cannot be derived 

from from the Greco-Roman sources. In the case of the 
identification of Yathrippa as Yathrib, there is inscriplional 
support, however, from a Minaean inscription, where Ythrib 
is found. The general picture from these sources is that an 
active culture of trade and agriculture linked Arabia with 
Africa, South Asia, and the East Mediterranean world. 

Arabia Between Two Empires 

By the middle of the third century c.e., religious and political 
competition between the Roman empire ami the new Persian 
Sassanian empire had intensified with Arabia as one of the 
centers of the conflict. Both sides were intent on political and 
economic domination through conversion. For the Romans, 
that meant Christianity, and sometime around 213 c.e., 
Origen visited Arabia, probably at Petra, to bring that area 
into religious and political orthodoxy. In 244 c.e., M. Julius 
Philippus, known as Philip the Arab, acceded to the Roman 
imperial throne, and there is strong evidence that he was a 
Christian. His predecessor, Gordianus III, had defeated the 
second Sassanian emperor, Shapur I (r. 241-272 c.e.), and, 
although he concluded a peace with the Persians, continued 
attempts to control Arabia. The Persians, whose official 
religion was the nonproselytizing Zoroastrianism, used 
Nestorian Christian and Jewish missionaries as their agents 
in Arabia. 

Knowledge of Arabian history from the fourth through 
the beginning of the sixth is meager because of the 
lack of written sources. In part, this is due to the decline of the 
urban centers in Arabia. While Arabia was no less strategi 
cally important to the two empires during this period, the 
creation of the buffer states of the Lakhrnids on the Sassanian 
side and the Ghassanids on the Roman/Byzantine side pro- 
vided both empires indirect means of controlling the flow of 
goods and traffic into the settled areas. Because the buffer 
states were a main source of camel cavalry, some schola rs have 
noted a process of Bedouinization corresponding to the 
decline of urban areas in this period as it became more 
profitable to raise and sell camels. The Ghassanids and the 
Lakhmids mirrored their sponsor slates by engaging in war 
fare, even when Rome and Persia were ostensibly at peace. 

In the sixth century c.e., conflicts again arose, this time 
through the agency of the Persian-sponsored Jewish state in 
the Yemen under Yusuf Dhu Nuwas and Byzantium's 
Monophysite ally, the kingdom of Aksum. When Dhu Nuwas 
attempted to return Najran to his control, he met resistance 
from armed Christian missionaries, whom he defeated. With 
Byzantine naval support, the Aksumites invaded Arabia, de- 
feated Dhu Nuwas, and established an Abyssinian-ruled cli- 
ent state. Its ruler, Abraha, rebuilt the Ma'rib dam erected a 
cathedral in San'a 5 , and attempted to conquer Mecca. His 
defeat, traditionally in 570 c.e. and recorded in Qur'an 105, 
coupled with an invasion of the Yemen by the Sassanian ruler 
Khusraw I Anushirwan (r. 53 1-579 c.e.), drove the Abyssinians 

from Arabia. The southern portion of Arabia remained under 
Persian control until the rise of Islam. 


Shortly before the birth of Muhammad in 570 c.e., Mecca and 
its environs in the Hijaz rose to historical prominence. In 
part, this view is in retrospect from the vantage of knowing 
that Islam came from there, but it is also in part because the 
dominant Meccan tribe seems to have been able to amass 
some political and economic hold over the region. The tribe 
of Qureish, whose name possibly means "dugong," was likely 
a group of Arabs involved in the Red Sea trade and moved 
inland with the decline of Roman authoritj in that sea. Their 
rule was both economic and theocratic. Their major shrine 
was the Ka'ba at Mecca, one of several such Ka'ba in Arabia at 
the time. They managed to import the w orship of many local 
Arabian deities to Mecca, so that polytheism under the 
Qureish became a kind of federal cult. 

It is difficult to speak with any precision about the native 

polytheism of the Arabs, because almost all ol what is known 
comes through hostile Islamic sources. Allah was worshipped 
as a creator deity and a "high god," but the everyday cult 
seems to have been dominated by several astral deities, 
ancestors, and chthonic spirits, such as the jinn. Animal 
sacrifices seem to have been used to pri ipitiate the more than 
three hundred deities mentioned by early Muslim historians. 
Circumambulation of the Ka'ba and other cultic objects was 
also a usual practice, often during "sacred" months of pil- 
grimage to religious sites. Little is known of the theological 
or moral nature of pre Islamic polytheism in Arabia, and the 
Muslim critique of the pre-Islamic period portrays it as 
devoid of all redeeming features. From the scanty evidence 
available, the cult promoted loyalty to family, clan, and tribe, 
a sentiment that Arabs carried over into the Islamic period as 
Islam was characterized as a "super-tribe" uniting all Arabs 
t genealogy. 

While Christianity was present from an early period in 
Arabia, and there is evidence of the political connections and 
dimensions of Arabian Christians to their coreligionists in the 
surrounding countries, little is known of Arabian Christian 
beliefs and practices except through Islamic sources. QuiAmic 
evidence indicates that, while the full range of Gospel narra- 
tives is not represented, the Qur'an represents particularly 
the Gospel of Luke quite accurately and with close read- 
ings. Recent scholarship in this area is challenging the ear- 
lier notions that the Qur'an portrayed only a heterodox 
form of Christianity and is pointing to a more mainstream 
pre Islamic Christianity, albeit divided among the various 
Christological heresies of the day. 

As seen from the above survey of Arabian history, religion 
among the pre-Islamic Arabs was closely tied to the political 
ambitions of several foreign powers that « ished to dominate 
Arabia. At the time of the rise of Islam, converting to one of 

The ruins of the Mar'ib Dam, created circa the s 
Arabia to predate Islam. Aqueducts and dams v 
have postulated that the decline of pre-lslamic l< 
attributes the destruction of the Mar'ib Dam t 

(th century b.ce. in Mar'ib, Yemen, by the Sabaens, one of four major kingdoms of southern 
ere an important part of the Sabaeans's infrastructure and rise to power. Secular historians 
ngdoms may have had to do with the breakdown of their dams and aqueducts; the Qu'ran 
■ divine punishment of the Sabaeans's sins. The Balaq mountains are in the background. 

s of Judaism or Christianity in Arabia meant 
choosing not only a religion but also a political and social 
agenda dominated by a foreign power. 

Literary Legacy 

One of the major legacies of pre Islamic Arabian culture to 
later Arab and Islamic culture was the development of the 
poetic and formal language often termed "classical" Arabic. 
In the century or century and a half before the birth of 
Muhammad in 570 c.e., the Arab tribes in the Hijaz Jen el 
oped a literary form of Arabic that stood alongside the various 
dialects. This was a composite, formal language with a highly 
inflected grammatical system. It also had a flexible system for 
generating new vocabulary based on extensive use of the 
Arabic verbal root system that allowed for easy adoption of 
new terms and concepts within the language itself. It was also 
open to the adoption of terms from the surrounding lan- 
guages of Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Ethiopic, among others. 
As a "meta-language" it undoubtedly reflected the growing 
political expansion of the Qureish and their economic unifi- 
cation of the Hijaz, but it also seems to have grown from the 
i experiences of local religious practices, Bedouin 

travel songs, and the panegyrics of the courts of the Arab 
dynasties along the borders of the Roman and Persian empires. 

There is also speculation that this language was used for 
formal prose in treaties, formal agreements, and in writing 
Jewish and Christian scripture, but, as mentioned above, 
there is little evidence of biblical translations into Arabic in 
the pre-lslamic period. Instead, there is more evidence that 
Jews and Christians had their own "dialects" of Arabic, with 
added vocabulary from the J ev% ish and Christian languages of 
the eastern Mediterranean. These dialects likely served as the 
conduits for much of the foreign religious vocabulary that 
found its way into Arabic. 

The poetry that has survived from the pre-lslamic period 
was transmitted orally and only transcribed in the Islamic 
period. It was composed by a poet to be preserved and recited 
by a reciter, a rawi, who may also have been a poet or an 
apprentice. In this poetry, each poetic line had independent 
meaning, and the entire poem was comprised of thematic 
which concentrated on travel, love, praise, and so 

. The most famous of these "odes," termed r/asidas, are 

known as the Mu c allaqat, or "suspended odes." Various sto- 
ries are given to explain the name, but the writers of these 
poems became known as the masters of Arabic poetic compo- 
sition, and their style of poetry so influential that later Islamic 
poetry in Persian and other Islamic languages as well as 
Arabic survived until modern times. 

The style of poetry known as saf, rhymed prose, was 

another influential poetic form, apparent!) used by seers and 
holy men for prognosticative pronouncements. This form of 
poetic language is found in many places in the Qur'an, giving 
rise to the accusation that Muhammad was a poet or man- 

! I i i i i i ] i ' i ppi i 

the volume one color plates. 

Sec also Arabic Language; Arabic Literature; Asabiyya; 
Empires: Sassanian; Muhammad. 


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Breton, J.-F 

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Burton, R. F., et al. Sir Richard Burton V Travels in . Irabia and 
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San Marino, Calif: Huntington Library, 1990. 

Bury, G. W. The Land of Uz. London: Macmillan and Co. 
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Cleveland, R. L. An luci tl Ii bian < Us: \ 

from the Second Campaign, 1951, in the Timnai Cemetery. 
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Crone, P. Mecca n Trade and the Rise of Islam. Princeton, N.J.: 
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A people with the name of Aribi is first mentioned in a 
cuneiform inscription from the eighth century b.c.e., where it 
denotes a nomadic tribe. In later centuries tribes named c rb 
are mentioned in several sources, for instance in the Torah 
(Jeremiah 25:24). It is not known what kind oflanguage these 
people spoke but it is clear that they had some connection 
with the North Arabian desert, even though they did not 
i II in th Vi ibi ii I in i nl ii 1 Pi >l> i 1 iht ii 1 i i 
belonged to the continuum of Semitic languages that was 
spoken all over the Middle East and that included Aramaic, 
Hebrew, Canaanite, and others. 

The full penetration oil he Arabian Peninsula dates from a 
later period. In the southern part of the peninsula the South 
Arabian kingdoms such as those of the Minaeans and the 
Sabaeans flourished from the thirteenth century b.c.e. on- 
ward. Their language was South Arabian, a language related 
to the Ethiopian languages. They had domesticated the 
camel, which was used for carrying loads but not yet as a 
ridinganimal. The South Arabians maintained frequent trade 
relations with the Middle East, usually by the sea route, and 
through these contacts the camel was introduced in the north 
as well. Around the beginning of the common era when a 
ruling saddle was developed for the camel, it became possible 
to penetrate the desert and even live there permanently. 
Presumably, some of the tribes that wandered in the border 
a lea between sedentary land and die desert fringe eventual!) 
made the shift to a nomadic life in the desert and thus 
ue\ eloped what may be called a Bedouin society. 

In the northern pari of the peninsula thousands of (usually 
short) inscriptions attest to the presence of a language that 
was very much akin to the Arabic language as it is known 
today. This language was characterized by the form of the 
article, h- or hn-, as distinct from the Arabic article al-, but 
related to the Hebrew form ha-. This language type is usually 
called Early North Arabic; it \\ as divided into several varieties 
such as Thamudaean and Lihyanitic. The first inscription in a 
language that may be recognized as Arabic is the inscription 
from al-Namara in Syria (328 c.i .) elected by Imru' al-Qays 
who calls himself "King of the Arabs." The language shows 

some similarities with the South Arabian of the South Ara- 
bian kingdoms, while at the same time preserving the traces 
of its relatedness to the Northwest Semitic languages. 

Around the fifth century Arabic-speaking tribes lived in 
large parts of the Arabian peninsula as well as in the areas to 
the north of the peninsula as far as the Syrian desert and the 
Sinai; some of them even settled in sedentary areas such as the 
city of Aleppo. These tribes were Christians. The Bedouin 
tribes in the peninsula were polytheists. They greatly in- 
creased their influence when they took over the caravan trade 
from the South Arabian kingdoms -awX settled themselves as 
middlemen in places like Mecca. 

The al-Namara inscription is written in a language with a 
declensional \ item, similar to the language of the pre- 
Islamic poems. It was in this language that the Qur'an was 
revealed. According to the indigenous tradition all tribes at 
the eve of Islam used this language as their vernacular 
language, although later grammarians document a number of 
differences between the varieties of the various tribes (higkat). 
Thus, for instance, the eastern tribes are said to have used a 
phoneme /'/ (hamza), which was absent in the dialect of the 
western tribes, but present in the language of poetry and the 
Qur'an. According to others the vernacular language of the 
tribes had already shifted to a different type of language, in 
which, for instance, case-endings had disappeared. In this 
view, the language of poetry and the Qur'an was a literary 
language that was no longer used as a spoken language but 
served as a kind of supra tribal \ ariety, based on the language 
of the eastern tribes (sometimes called poetico-Qur'anic koine). 

The Spread of the Arabic Language 

After the death of the prophet Muhammad the Islamic 
conquests brought the religion and the language of the Arab 
tribes into a large area stretching from Islamic Spain to 
Central Asia. The languages originally spoken in this area 
(Coptic, Persian, Syriac, Berber) gave way to the linguistic 
onslaught of Arabic, and even though some of the speakers 
remained bilingual, the entire area was Arabized within a 
century. The Arabic as spoken by the inhabitants of this vast 
empire differed considerably from the language of the Our an, 
especially in the sedenlan centers that were established in the 
earh years of the conquest, such as Basra, Knfa, Etislal, and 
Kairouan. There was a reduction of the phonemic inventory 
(loss of interdentals, merger of the phonemes dad and ;,//'), 
loss of case-endings and modal endings, reduction of gram- 
matical categories, and emergence of a genitive exponent and 
aspectual particles. Syntactically speaking, the language had 
shifted from a synthetic to an analytic type, usually called 
New Arabic. 

There are many theories about the reasons for this change, 
which affected all domains of grammar. Those who believe 
that even before Islam the vernacular language of the Bed- 
ouin already exhibited some New Arabic changes tend to 
e the role of the new learners of the language. They 

This modern example of Arabic calligraphy by Aziz Muhammad Al Shabli reads: " thanks be to God the Lord of the Universe," which is the firsl 
line of the Qur'an. Originating in the Near East, Arabic was brought by Islamic conquests in the century after Muhammad's death to a vast 
geographii al area rea< hing from parts of Spain to Central Asia. Aziz Mohammed Al Shabli/ACCESS 

believe the various vernaculars of the Bedouin were homog- 
enized when members from different tribes were thrown 
together in the conquering armies. As a result, the vernacular 
varieties that emerged after the conquests became very differ- 
ent from the language of the Qur'an. Others look for the 
cause of the linguistic changes in the languages spoken by the 
inhabitants of the conquered territories. According to them, 
this substrata] influence affected the structure of New Arabic 
by carrying over features of languages such as Coptic, Per- 
sian, Syriac, and Berber to the Arabic language, as spoken by 
its new speakers. Yet another factor to be taken into account 
is the process of langi e acquisiti 1 1 itself. In every language- 
learning process in an informal setting the native speakers 
tend to simplify their language and the new learners apply 
universal strategies of simplification to this input. The result 
is a drastic reduction of the phonemic inventory and of 
grammatical categories, a genera! disappearance of reditu 
dancy, and a restructuring of the language. 

Whatever the causes of the linguistic changes, there can 
be no doubt that very early on in the conquests there was a 
marked difference between the language of the religious and 

literary heritage on one hand, and the colloquial speecli of the 
Arab empire on the other. According to the classic descrip 
lion of this situation by Ibn Khaldun, the scholars of Arabic 
became concerned about this corruption of speech and started 

: books lest the 
mprehensible for 

to codify the language in their gram 
language of the holy scriptures become i: 
later generations. 

The original conquest was just the first stage in the 
Arabization process since it reached only the sedentary areas, 
in particular the new garrison towns established by the Arab 
armies. Later centuries brought successive waves of Bedouin 
migrants to the conquered territories. These were responsi- 
ble for the Arabization of much larger areas. In some cases 
they re-Bedouinized the sedentary dialects of the cities. In 
Baghdad, for instance, the dialect of the Muslims became 
Bedouinized while the Christians and Jews retained the 
original sedentary dialect. In North Africa the second wave of 
migration is associated with the invasion of the Bedouin 
tribes of the BanuHilal and the 13 ami Stilaym in the tenth and 
eleventh centuries c.e., which brought Arabic to large parts of 
the countryside. 

There is no consensus about the language these Bedouin 
spoke. Those who maintain that the vernacular of the Bed- 
ouin tribe's in the pre Islamic period had already changed in 
the direction of New Arabic believe that there was not much 
difference between the dialects of the first and the second 
1. Others believe that the Bedouin tribes continued to 
a type of Arabic that was basically identical with the 

pre Islamic Arabic of poetry and Qur'an. In this 
Bedouin did not lose their speech until the fourth o 
the Hijra (Islamic calendar). Tins is corroborated by the 
grammarians who explain that the Bedouin dialects became 
corrupted through exposure to the sedentary way of speaking. 

Arabic in Islamic Society 

At the beginning of Islam, Arabic became the language of 
both private and public life in the Arab empire. During a 

i 1 1 i i i 1 ined in i 

for instance in Egypt where Greek and Coptic were used for 
administrative purposes along with Arabic. But at the end of 
the first century of the Hijra, Arabic was firmly established as 
lire official language of die empire. "The languages that used 
to be spoken in the conquered territories disappeared or 
remained in use in a restricted domain only, such as Coptic 
and Syriac. In the Arab West, Berber remained in use in the 
countryside and has indeed never been replaced completely 
by Arabic until the present day. 

The codification of standard Arabic by the grammarians 
started during the second century of Islam, but even before 
that there must have existed some kind of norm in writing, 
possibly connected with the emergence of an epistolary style 
in the chancelleries. The earliest Arabic documents, the 
Egyptian papyri from the first century of the Hijra, already 
contain "mistakes" that show the existence of a standard as 
target in writing. Such mistakes are very common and with 
the growth of literacy they became even more frequent. In 
modern linguistic terminology texts containing deviations 
from the grammatical norms of the standard language are 
usu.iih called ""Middle Arabic." This term does not denote a 
well-defined variety of the language but is used as a general 
label for all nonstandard texts. Some of the mistakes reflect 
the vernacular language, for instance, when people write la 
i k ■'" ' "they do not write" rather than the more formal la 
yaktubuna, but very often one encounters pseudo-corrections, 
when people in their attempt to write standard Arabic over- 
step their target, for instance when they « rite Lrm yiiktubiaui 
"they did not write" instead of////// \iiktiibu. The introduction 
of vernacular features in written language could also serve to 
create a humorous effect. This occurs particularly in litera- 
ture aiming at a popular audience, such as the stories in the 
Arabian Nights or in dialect poetry. 

The acceptance oi de\ lations from the norms was particu- 
larly strong in non-Muslim circles. Jewish and Christian 
writers, who did not have the same attachment to the lan- 
guage of the Qur'an, felt free to use a more popular kind of 
language. Thus we find Jewish writers using certain vernacu- 
lar constructions when writing to fellow Jews, but studiouslj 
avoiding these when writing for a more general Muslim 
audience. One might even say that this kind of Arabic became 
an in-group language with a special status. This Judaeo- 
Arabic was written in Hebrew characters and contained a 
large number of Hebrew loanwords. 

Arabic remained the language par excellence of the Islamic 
empire for well over five centuries, until the Mongol con- 
quest of Baghdad in 1258. Even in Mamluk Egypt, where the 

political and military elite consisted oi Turkic speaking peo 
pie, Arabic continued to be regarded as a language of prestige. 
Mamluk intellectuals used it in writing, even though Oipcaq 
Turkic was their colloquial language. In the East the position 
of Arabic as a religious, cultural, and administratis e language 
started to change from the tenth century onward. Middle 
Persian, the language of the Persian empire, had become 
marginalized after the conquests, but New Persian (Farsi) 
became popular as the language of poetry in the ninth 
century. The dynasty of the Samanids reintroduced it as the 
language of the court, and in the sixteenth century the S a fa vid 
dynasty started to use it as the new "national" language of 
Iran. As a result, the spreading of Islam in South and South 
east Asia took place in Persian, particularly when the Moguls 
began to use it as their literal;, language. In the islamic East, 
Arabic was retained soleh as the language of the Qur'an, 
Persian having become the language of preaching, literature, 
and administration. 

With the advent of the Turkic peoples Arabic gradually 
lost its position in the Islamic West as well. In the Seljuk 
Empire and later in the Ottoman Empire the language of 
administration became Ottoman Turkish, while Persian was 
the language used by the intellectual elite for cultural pur- 
poses. Arabic was relegated to the domain of religion, al- 
though it continued to serve as a source for thousands of 
loanwords in both Persian and Turkish, ranging from learned 
words such as mo'alkm "teacher" in Persian and tikidc ""dogma" 
in Turkish to common words such as ve- 'and' in both 
languages. Yet, when the Arab world became integrated in 
the Ottoman Empire, spoken Arabic was treated as a minor 
provincial language and its written variety was only used for 
religious purposes. Even though most inhabitants of the Arab 
provinces did not know Turkish, official contacts with the 
empire had to take place in that language. 

The nineteenth-cenluiy Aral) renaissance (Nahda) brought a 
change in the self-awareness of the Arabs and the position of 
Arabic. In Egypt, Muhammad Ali initiated a movement to 
translate European writings into Arabic. In its wake a new 
idiom was created to convey the new ideas, and the language 
was modernized through the introduction of a host of new 
terms in the fields of the technical sciences, economics, and 
politics. Once again, Arabic became a language in which 
political and administrative issues were discussed. 

The fall of the Ottoman Empire signified a new beginning 
for Arabic but the simultaneous invasion of the colonial 
powers introduced a new danger to the language. Because of 
the military and cultural dominance of the English and the 
French the attitude toward Arabic was often a negative one. 
After the Arab countries gained their independence Arabic 
became the official language of most of these c 

the symbol of Arab nationalism. In the Mashreq, it did not 
take long before English was replaced by Arabic, but in the 

formerly French -dominated countries it took decades before 
the French language had disappeared from the administra- 
tive, educational, and legal systems. 

Fusha and 'Ammiyya 

The contemporary linguistic situation in the Arab world is 
characterized by diglossia, in which two varieties of the 
language have strictly separate roles or functions in the 
speech community. The so-called High variety, called fusbn 
or/// 'iirnbiyyii, is the language [earned at school as the carrier 
of a rich religious and literary heritage; it is the language that 
is used in writing, both in the educational system and the 
media, and in formal speech. The Low variety . called 'tiiiiiiiiwn 
or in North Africa durijii. Is Lite colloquial language, which is 
the mother tongue of all speakers. It is the language of 
everyday communication, '.he language of friends and family, 
the language of informal speaking. 

The coexistence of two varieties of the language is not 
without its problems. Since the standard language is learned 
at school, only those who are literate have access to the 
written production. For the vast majority of the population 
the formal language is not immediately comprehensible so 
that a large part of linguistic communication in the commu- 
nity is beyond their linguistic competence. The two varieties 
have quite different associations, the standard language being 
associated with education and therefore with social success 
and wealth, whereas the vernacular is associated with illiter- 
acy and poverty. At the same time, its function as the language 
of informal talk makes it the symbol of in-group communica- 
tion, whereas the standard language is seen as a stereotyped 
and distanced meat- 

Language choice between standard and vernacular de- 
pends on a number of factors such as the person of the 
interlocutor, the topic being spoken about, and the setting of 
the speech act. By their language choice speakers express 
their attitude toward these factors, their evaluation of the 
situation and the interlocutor. Since language variation is not 
a matter of choice between two discrete varieties, but takes 
place on a continuum between the highest standard and the 
lowest vernacular, there are endless possibilities of language 
choice. Such linguistic behavior is often indicated with the 
term of code-mixing. Since the span of the continuum attain- 
able for the individual speaker directly depends on the degree 
of literacy, most people may be said to have only a relatively 
small variation at their disposal. But even the best educated 
speakers are unable to extemporize in standard Arabic and 
inei itably mix vernacular elements in their speech. 

Because of its symbolic value as a binding element for 
all Arabic-speaking peoples language choice is intimately 

connected with Arab nationalism. The ftishu is the symbol 
of Arab unity, whereas the vernacular dialects stand for 

, and regionalism {itjlniiiyyii). Ii is widely believed 
in the Arab world that during the colonial period the Euro- 
pean powers intentionally propagated the study and the use of 
the dialect in order to divide the Arab world. Even today, 
Western interest in dialeclolc >gy is st ill regarded as a manifes- 
tation of neo-imperialism. This creates a problem for Arab 
politicians who wish to show their adherence to the ideals of 
Arab nationalism but at the same time their strong ties with 
the population. Politicians like Jarnal 'Abd al Nasser made a 
skillful use of the language variation by mixing standard and 
vernacular in their political speeches. The connection with 
the standard language is especially strong in those o 
thai emphasize their role in the Arab n 
The different attitudes toward Arab nationalism correlate 
with the attitude toward the vernacular. In those countries 
where Arab nationalism is part of the dominant ideology the 
use of standard Arabic is emphasized and attempts to replace 
it with the vernacular are met with sei 

The attitude toward the dialect is not wholly negative, 
however. In a country such as Egypt the ' ammiyya may be said 
to hold a special position. Because of the pride they take in 
their country Egyptians are also proud of the Egyptian 
dialect, and allln nigh they share with other Arab countries the 
mistrust toward the imperialists who used the dialect to 
further their own interests and although in Egypt, too, the 
(iisha holds a special prestige position, the use of the dialed is 
widespread even in situations where in other countries it 
would be unthinkable to use dialect. Thus, Egyptian presi 
dents are never averse to using partly Egyptian dialect in their 
political speeches at least for internal use; in their contacts 
with other Arab countries they tend to switch to standard 
Arabic. Since the Egyptian film industry and more recently 
the television soaps have gained enormous popularity outside 
Egypt, knowledge of this dialect in other Arab countries is 
widespread and many speakers of other dialects are familiar 
with Egyptian. 

In North Africa the linguistic policies of the French have 
left unmistakable traces. After independence there was a class 
of intellectuals who only knew French and could not commu- 
nicate in Arabic. The first decades after gaining indepen- 
dence were therefore characterized by a movement toward 
Arabizalion, the replacement of French by Arabic in domains 
such as administration and education. Several school reforms 
were needed before at least primary and secondary schools 
adopted Arabic as the main medium of instruction. Even 
today French/Arabic bilingualism in North Africa is wide- 
spread and French has retained a special position of prestige. 
In particular among intellectuals the mixing of French and 
Arabic in franco-arabe has remained popular. 

In the Levant, Syria, and Lebanon became independent 
from French colonial rule with a somewhat different out- 
come. In Syria, French never took hold the way it did in the 

Maghreb. In Lebanon, however, bilingualism was connected 
with a widespread feeling, both among Muslims and Chris 
tians, that Lebanon was a bicultural country. The civil war 
has changed this situation in the sense that Arabic-French 

bilingualism has become associated more exclusively with the 
Christian community. 

Arabic as a World Language 

After the Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 711 c.e., 
the influence of the Arabic language spread beyond the 
borders of the Islamic world. Due to its role as tl le language in 
which Greek philosophy and science were tra nsmi tted, E u n i 
pean scholars came to regard Arabic as the language of 
culture and scholarship. A large amount of translations of 

iili i rculated in W estern Europe, and through the 

contact with Arab culture in al-Andalus many loanwords, 
such as algebra, zero, algorithm, alchemy, sugar, artichoke, apri 

i 1 ;nii- the Europt in 1 in u Ehis intei 

national role of Arabic ended with the Renaissance when 
Western Europe rediscovered the Greek sources and no 
longer needed Arabic as an intermedial") , 

Nowadays, Arabic is spoken as a mother tongue outside 
the Arab world in a number of linguistic enclaves, such as 
Anatolian Arabic in Turkey, and tiny pockets of speakers in 

Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and C) prus. Malta is a differ 
ent case altogether. Here, the Maltese language, written in 
Latin characters, has become the only Arabic dialect with the 
status of a national language. The Maltese, who are Chris- 
tians, tend to deny the connection of their language with the 
Arabic-speaking world and prefer to regard the language as a 
it of the Phoenician language. 

Apart from these enclaves, large numbers of Arabs have 
migrated outside Lite Arab world (mahjar). h\ the Americas, 
car!} immigrants came mostly from Lebanon and Syria. Most 
of them were merchants, who assimilated without difficulty 
to their new countries, especially in Latin America. Most of 
them retained Arabic and in countries such as Brazil and 
Argentina they even managed to establish a thriving literary 

The immigration of speakers of Arabic to western Europe 
has a different background. In the early 1960s the western 
European countries started to hire unskilled laborers from 
the Mediterranean countries on a large scale. The original 
plan was to hire these people for a restricted period of time 
and then remigrate them to the countries of origin. Soon it 
became apparent that they were there to stay. As a result the 
western European countries suddenly realized that they had a 
sizable Arabic- speaking minority. In most of these countries 
the official policy of the government consisted in providing 
education in the home language of the immigrants' children. 
Nonetheless, many children of the second and third genera- 
tion are losing their language of origin and shifting to the 
dominant language. In most cases they go through a length) 

period of code-switching in which they mix their home 
language and the language of the country they are living in. 

The main role of Arabic outside the Arab world is that of 
being the language of the Qur'an, even though in many 

regions it was not the language of the Islamic spreading of the 
faith (da'cea). This role was played in the East by Persian, and 
further east by Malay. In Africa, the language in which Islam 
was preached was Hausa or Swahili. Yet, for all Muslims 
Arabic has a special status as the language chosen by God for 
his last revelation. The reverence for this status does not lead., 
however, to intensive study of the language itself. Ordinary 
Muslims in countries such as Iran, Turkey. Indonesia, Paki 
stan, Nigeria, and Senegal do not know more Arabic than a 
few ayahs from the Qur'an, even though in some of these 
countries there is an extensive public or private network of 
Qur'an schools where the text of the Holy Book and the basic 
elements of Arabic are being taught. 

Historically, Arabic functioned in Africa not only as a 
religious language but also as a language of trade. Even before 

\\ i v u i raslslamici 1 i i is used tin i i i lin 1 1 
franca between the courts of different kingdoms. This is also 
clear from the loanwords in African languages, which are not 
restricted to the domain of religion but comprise also other 
semantic domains. In Hausa, for instance, such words as 

book" (// / nl i lain e a nm Arabic as 

do some conjunctions such as saboo da "because." from Arabic 
sabab ""reason."" In Swahili something like 30 percent of the 
lexicon is derived from Arabic. Most of these loans were 
introdu ed in a mall ck ol o < . I !>-< I nalhn (Ar. //// 
"teacher") who maintained the ties with Arabic even after the 
trade connections had been severed. 

In Asia. Islam was spread by Persian speaking traders and 
missionaries. Here 'die Arabic language was known exclu- 
sively from the text of the Qur'an. Even though the ordinary 
believers did not know Arabic, they became used to some of 
the religious terms through the recitation of the Qur'an. 
Other Arabic words entered the Asian languages through 
Persian, as evidenced by their phonological shape, for in- 
stance, in Urd i i idi i ithPei i in z for Arabic 
dad. A further source ol I KHTowing was the written medium. A 
small class of scholars used their pilgrimage 10 Mecca in order 
to study the Islamic sciences and through their books they 
introduced hundreds or even thousands of loanwords from 
Arabic. It has been estimated that in Malay more than three 
thousand words were borrowed in this way, for instance, the 
word huh u in "judgment," which gave rise to the derived verb 
/ , kumkan "to pronounce judgment." 

The relatively low level of knowledge of Arabic may be 
changing with the increasing influence of Arabic sites on the 
Internet. In some countries, such as Mali, lea ruing Arabic has 
become quite fashionable among young people. In other 
:s, international Islamic contacts may lead to an in- 
l Arabic as the primary language of Islam. 

See also African Culture and Islam; Arabic Literature; 
Grammar and Lexicography; Identity, Muslim; Pan- 
Arabism; Persian Language and Literature; Qur'an; 
South Asian Culture and Islam; Urdu Language, Lit- 
re, and Poetry. 


Ayalon, Ami. Language and Change in the Arab Middle East: 
The Evolution of Modern Political Discourse. New York and 
Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1987. 

hi 11 lull irnm id Hasan. , Arabic i i I • I it 

tion and Bibliography. London: Mansell, 1983. 

1 1 'I |l> ill! ' / ll I / i 

the Origins ofNeo-Arabk. Malibu, Calif: Undena, 1977. 
Bulliet, Richard W. The Camel and the Wheel. 2d ed. New 

York: Columbia University Press, 1990. 
Dien i ii i i i I ' i i 

heutigen arabisch, • Z isj eh, i Wiesbaden: F. 

Steiner, 1974. 
Ferguson, Charles A. "The Arabic Koine." Language 25 

(1959a): 616-630. 
Ferguson, Charles A. "Diglossia." Word 15 (1959b): 325-340. 
J i her, \\ olfclic inch. C I then Pi. < ' <>l 

J prach: ;enscl i Wit baden: L. Reichert, 1983. 
Fischer, Wolfdietrich, and Jastrow, Otto. Handbuch der 

arabischen Dialekte. Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz, 1980. 
Holes, Clive. Modem Arabic: Structures, Functions and Varie- 
ties. London and New York: Ivegan Paul International, 1995. 
Miller, Ann M. "The Origin of th< [odern irabii Sedentai 

Dialects: An Evaluation of Several Theories." Al-Arabiyya 

19 (1986): 47-74. 
Rouchdy, Aleya. The Arabic Language in America. Detroit: 

Wayne State University Press, 1992. 
Versteegh, Kees. The Arabic Language. 2d ed. Edinburgh: 

Edinburgh University Press, 2001. 

Kees Versteegh 


Literature may be defined in numerous ways, but in Arabic- 
literature some of the prominent phenomena that are associ- 
ated with the modern concept of literature — individual crea- 
tivity, authenticity of feeling, and fictionality — will not easily 
be detected by an unaware reader, Arabic literature as well as 
other non-Western literatures is firmly rooted in its own 
tradition and can hardly be appreciated otherwise. 

Arabic Literature: Notions and Concepts 

The modern Arabic equivalent for literature is adab, but in its 
traditional context this concept also refers to notions like 

"education," "general knowledge," and "decency." It is de- 
rived from die pre Islamic da'b (pi. adab) that denotes "good, 
accepted practice." In medieval Arab society adab can prob- 
ably be best compared to the concept of "belles lettres." It 
does not, however, include the most esteemed form of Arabic 
i of shi'r, or poetry, as a category. 

To understand the status of shi'r, its early development 
within pre-Islamic society has to be discussed. This society 
was divided along lines of families, tribes, and clans. Within 
the clan the prominent social characters were the sayyid 
(chief), the kahin (the soothsayer, expert of the supernatural), 
and the sha'dr, die keeper of earthly knowledge memorized in 
a nonscriptural society. This shaHr — or "poet" — knew by 
heart the clan's history, the affiliations with other clans, and 
the battle deeds of the clan in skirmishes with other clans. 
Bat tie cries, invectives of the enemy, and boasting of the hero 
were commonly uttered in poetical form and were memo- 
rized by the poet, in order to be handed down to the next 

In a development for which we have no record, another 
kind of poetry emerged in this pre Islamic society called the 
qasida (or "ode"). These poems, too, were memorized in the 
poet. In the course of time he started to compose this kind of 
poetry himself. The practice of memorizing and composing 
poetry was a craft that was handed down from one generation 
to next, the poet's apprentice being called rami or "transmit 
ter" (pi. ruwat). 

Pre-Islamic Arabic Poetry 

An Arabic poem was composed on the basis of two form 
principles: meter and rhyme. Each poem had a fixed meter 
that could be chosen from the sixteen metrical patterns that 
Arabic prosodical tradition defined, although ii has to be said 
that classical poets were mainly using only six of these. 
Contrary to Western metrical tradition, the Arabic meters 
were based on the length of syllables rather then on stress. 
This does not mean that Arabic poetic language knew no 
stress, but it was not the principle for metric scansion. The 
poet is expected to retain the same meter throughout each 
poem he composes, which may run into dozens of verses. 

Apart from this feature, called monometer, the poet uses 
the same rhyme throughout the poem, which is called 
monorhyme. The rhyme cluster is always based on one 
specific consonant accompanied with long or short vowels. In 
the correct rhyme a limited variation of vowels is allowed. 
Each line of poetry is divided into two hemistichs, which 
deceptively makes the poem in print seem like two columns. 

This elaborated form requires a high degree of craftsman- 
ship and it suggests a long evolution, but no sources are 
available for this. It may also seem that in its form Arabic 
poetry is extremely monotonous, but it is often the subtle play 

between the formal rules, the listeners expectation, and the 
poet's elegant solutions that makes this poetry a vibrant art. 

Pre-Islamic (or pre-classical) Arabic poetry can be divided 
thematicall) into two groups: short, tnonothematic poems, 
often "situational" poetry, and long, polythematic poems 
called qasidas. 

Qasida. The qasida is the most prestigious poetical c 
throughout Arab history. Even nowadays it is deemed the 
ultimate work of artistic achievement of Arab culture. It is a 
tripartite composition that follows a thematic sequence: In 
\\ic ii.mb the poet often in a dialogue with his companions 
recalls his memory of a love affair. To give in to his grief 
meant that the poet broke his sell control {sabr). The imme- 
ises to legitimize this is his coming across 
s of the camp left by the tribe to which his 
beloved belongs. This description is usually vivid and realis- 
tic, although to our modern taste the beloved is hardly 
portrayed as an actual person. 

In the second pari of the qasida the poet distances himself 
from this emotional reminiscence by dwelling on his travels 
through the desert, describing his mount and the desert 
environment with its specific fauna (rahil). Sometimes this 
second part is very short, condensed to the words da' dha: 
"leave that (love affair) behind!" 

The final part of the qasida offers the poet a relative 
freedom in the choice of his theme. He may address the chief 
of a tribe with a panegyric ode (madih), use his poem as a 
warning against an enemy, indulge in boasting on his own 
exploits, or simply offer a vivid description of a natural 
phenomenon like an all-refreshing shower. 

The traditional qasida, its form, and its content, have 
remained influential not only for Arabic literature, but also 
for later developments in Turkish and Persian 1 

Marthiya. Apart from die qasida another genre adopted this 
prestigious form. From a traditional wailing exclamation, 
probably common to the universal rituals of death, Arab 
women developed a kind of poetic dirge that kept the middle 
between "situational" poetry and the qasida. The marthiya 
was composed in remembrance of a deceased brother, hus- 
band, or father, but it followed the formal (not the thematic) 
requirements of the qasida. The reason for this is that ma rath i 
were considered poetry of the public domain, inciting to 
blood vengeance in case of violent death and helping to 
reinvigorate social values and die ideal of knightly vigor on 
which women and children depended for their security. 
Contemporary to the early emergence of Islam the poetess al- 
Khansa (d. c. 645) produced a considerable number of such 
dirges on her brothers in which one might read a stance of 
opposition toward the social changes that the new religion 
brought with it against such pre-Islamic virtues as bravery, 
hospitality, generosity, and tribal loyalty. 

Shifting themes and forms. Shortly before the emergence 
of Islam, Arabic poetry underwent a few thematic innova 
tions: Love poetry gradually became an independent genre, 
introducing the beloved as taking part in a — probably 
fictitious — dialogue. In this period one also finds religious 
poetry reflecting a set of (popular) Christian and Jewish 
monotheistic concepts among the urban class of traders, as 
opposed to pagan worship of natural objects or polytheism 
that were still v idespread on the Arabian Peninsula, 

In cases where prestigious poetry was not deemed suit- 
able, ni her literary forms were in use: The meter rajaz served 
all kinds of "situational" poetry like working songs, invectives, 
obscene poetry, and exhortations. Later this meter was used 
for lengthy didactic poems. 

Rhymed prose (saf) was used for soothsayer predictions 
and enchantments, for folkloric savings and proverbs, and, 
finally, for the text of the Qur'an. 

Poetry in Early Islam and the Umayyad Era 

The production of poetry subsided remarkably with the 
beginning of Islam. First, the prophet Muhammad's attitude 
toward poetry was ambiguous. He renounced poetry and 
poets when he was accused of being a "poet" himself. A quote 
from the Qur'an runs, "And the poets — the perverse follow 
them; hast thou not seen how they wander in every valley and 
how they say that which they do not," a reference to their 
baseless boasting (Ar berry, trans., 26:224-226). On the other 
hand he realized hat hi tatus, comparable with that of a pre- 
Islamic chief, demanded the presence of a "court poet" as 
well, in his case the famous Hassan b. Thabit (d. 670). 
Another reason for the declining popularity of poetry may 
well have been the general preoccupation of the new Muslims 
with the expansion and stabilization of the new state. This 
decline in poetic production, however, was only temporary. 
The Umayyad era quickly gave an impetus for new develop- 
ments in Arabic poetry. 

Although the polythematic qasida as the masterpiece par 
excellence never ceased to exist, its parts developed into 
separate kinds of poetry in the Umayyad era. The nasib 
developed into love poetry and the rahil with its descriptions 
of nature into forms of bucolic poetry like descriptions of 
hunting parties and gardens. Together with older poetic 
kinds like wine poetry (khamriyya) and the general topic of 
description (was/), these parts constituted the plethora of 
themes that a poet from this era could address. 

The dichotomy of ea rly Isla m ic society, its division into a 
Bedouin and a trader class, becomes clear in love poetry. In 

li / part of tin ill beloved is mainly a nonpresent 

entity. She has left with her tribe and all that the poet can do is 
regret her departure and remember their past afair. Follow- 
ing Litis tradition the ndhri type of love poem (named after 
the tribe 'Udhra) creates an even greater dh ision between the 

poet and his beloved: She becomes the unreachable projec- 
tion of the poet's love from which he can only suffer and then 
whither aw a\ from passion. This kind of poetry might best be 
culled "idealistic"' and it provided Arabic literature u ith sonic 
almost mythical love pairs like Ma j nun and his Layla. 

With the emergence of Islam and the continued ritualistic 

pilgrimage to Mecca, the population in the llijaz cities like 
Mecca and Medina became gradually more affluent. Once a 
year they provided an intertribal and international forum 
where all Muslims could gather. The huge crowds invoh ed in 
the hajj consisted of both men and women, offering many 
opportunities for both sexes to meet and have affairs. These 
paved the way for the so called /' ijttzi love poetry, in which the 
poet vividly describes his adventures, and cites extensively 
from (fictitious) dialogues between his beloved's companions 
and her or between the protagonists themselves. As opposed 
to 'iiclhri love poetry, this new development can be called 
"realistic" love poetry. 

In many ways the poetic developments of the Umayyad 
era reflect the development from a tribal society with 
nonhereditary succession to an urban society with dynastic 
power and an affluent court life in which the poet serves to 
embellish the environment of his n 

Poetry in the Abbasid Era 

The transition from the Umayyad to the Abbasid dynasty and 
the transfer of the seat of the caliphate from Damascus to 
Baghdad can be considered the revolution of the mawali, or 
second- and third generation converted Muslims who were 
not of Arab origin, but descendants of Persian or Byzantine 
families. Often these families had held high positions in the 
Sassanid kingdom in Persia. 

In the early Abbasid era Arabic poetry consolidated its 
courtly functions. Most poets were in one way or another 
attached to the court, the highest ranking poets being com- 
panions of the caliphs themselves. 

The bond of Arabic literature with its pre-Islamic, Bed- 
ouin basis became more and more symbolic, although one of 
the greatest poets of this era, Abu Nuwas (d. c. 814), had had 
his poetic training through living with Arab tribes. His 
allegiance to the urban lifestyle motivated his utter contempt 
for those primitive conditions that lie expressed in ridiculing 
Bedouin life. His most famous poems are the khamriyyat 
(about drinking scenes) and the intuitu, more or less obscene 
poems about (pederastic) love. 

In this poetry by Abu Nuwas and by the later Abu 
Tamilian] (d. 845), the kijtizi tradition of realistic love poetry, 
of the self-confident individual, lives its triumph. The idealis- 
tic 'tttlbri love poetry comes to an end with the late-eighth- 
century poet al- 'Abbas b. al-Ahnaf (b. c. 750). His courtly love 
poetry has often (but probably not rightly) been interpreted 
as the source of courtly love poetry in the "Toubadours et 

Trouveres" tradition in southern France through Arab-ruled 
al-Andalus (southern Spain). 

The poetn of the Abbasid era pnn ided a huge, sparkling 
collection of love poems, obscene poetry, repentance poetry 
for unbecomely behavior, semi-religious poetry pondering 
morlalirj , and detailed descriptions of gardens and gadgets in 
ever) day life. In short every possible theme that an affluent 
class of intellectuals can think of was represented. The same 
period witnessed the emergence of literary theory and liter- 
ary criticism. Inspired by the "philological" culture that 
Islamic society was (the Qur'an being the verbatim reproduc- 
tion of God's word), both poets and linguists set out to 
explore the possibilities of the Arabic language, a discipline 
that inevitably led to mannerism and far-fetched metaphors 

Abu Tammam and the ninth-century poet al-Buhturi (d. 
897/898) opposed this tendency by presenting two collec- 
tions of poetn (both called lltninisa: courage) for which they 
selected canonical poetn of the Umayyad and pre Islamic 

During the tenth century the central authority in Baghdad 
started to lose its grip on some of the outer regions like Egypt 
and Syria. As a consequence local "kings" established their 
own courts and court cultures in which one or more poets 
were essential assets. By this time some poets had reached an 
independent status, so that they could allow themselves to be 
hired by the most bidding party, like the famous poet al- 
Alrilanabbi (d, 965) who started his career w ith Sayf al Daw la 
(d. 967), ruler of Aleppo, then moved to the court of Kafur in 
Cairo and finally joined the Bnwayhid court of c Adud al- 
Dawla (d. 983) in Iraq. This mobility shows how poets had 
gained a role as spokesmen for the rulers of the time, voicing 
the king's greatness and acting as the laureate poets on 
important occasions, 


The downfall of the Umayyad caliphate had caused one of the 
members of the Umayyad family, 'Abd al-Rahman I (d. 788), 
to flee westward to the Iberian Peninsula where he estab- 
lished the kingdom of Cordoba in 752. This marked the 
beginning of Andalusian history, an outstanding period in 
Islamic history. This period is still referred to by Arabs as the 
multicultural "state" par excellence because it meant the 
peaceful coexistence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Al- 
Andalus soon disintegrated into petty kingdoms like Toledo, 
Sevilla, and Granada, but this never impeded cultural and 
intellectual progress. Only periods of foreign rule by ortho- 
dox Muslim forces from North Africa could temporarily 
infringe on it, until finally Granada fell to the Spanish 
Reconquista in 1492, the formal end of Andalusian history. 

At the various courts in the main cities of al-Andalus, 

■e reached a remarkable apogee, ( )ne of the contribu- 
s Andalusion poets made to Arabic literature was the 

e form of the /</ ' i i poem with a strophical 
. It is unclear what the origin of this poem was. 
Certain types of strophic poetry were known in the East by 
the eighth century, but they never reached the level of 
prestigious poetry. The- origin of the nnrrrashshah, with its 
rhyme structure divided into stanzas and choruses and its 
idiosyncratic meter, should probably be sought in local 
Romance poetic traditions, probabl) in songs. This is at least 
n gg ed by the use of vernacular Arabic, Hebrew, and even 
the local Romance dialect, for instance, in the last verse of 
some muwashshahs, as a kind of humorous clue. 

The Centuries of Decline: Amateur Poetry 

In the classical period the poet was a respected craftsman, 
famous for composing his art in courtly circles. Aleanw hile in 
urban society the high status of Arabic-Islamic education, 
with its emphasis on language and the ornate use of it, 
produced an even greater number of literati who were able to 
produce verse at any given occasion. A great number of these 
"occasional" poems concerning every possible aspect of life 
(but often, of course, on the theme of love) are still to be 
found scattered in many 'adab-works on a wide range of 
subjects, often helping to embellish the context. 

It was mainly this class of literati that composed poetry 
between the thirteenth and eigteenth centuries (the qurun al- 
inhitat, or the centuries of decline in Arab culture). It is hard 
to name any famous poets of this period, but recent research 
has shown that poetry probably never stopped to be of high 
quality and originality. This is, however, a period thai needs 
e study than it has hitherto received. 

Arabic Prose 

The oldest fragments of Arabic prose are the accounts of 
intertribal skirmishes on the Arab peninsula. These accounts, 
interlaced with poetry, may not be very accurate as a reflec- 
tion of reality, but on the other hand they cannot be regarded 
as fiction. A second prose collection was the Prophet's biog- 
raphy, the sira, which by its nature cannot be considered 
fiction. The structure of these stories — chain of spokesmen, 
followed by the story itself, with short poems in between — 
remains the same in later prose collections. However, the 
context often became more frivolous like in al-Isfahani's (d. 
96 I Kital i hani (Book of songs), a huge collection of 
stories about poets and singers. One should be careful to use 
these for historic purposes because they are of an anecdotal 
character, representing neither pure historical facts nor pure 

Another development within Arabic prose is the abundant 
growth oi'adab literature in the Abbasid era, probabh best 
rendered as "belles lettres," the well-wrought discourse for 
which any subject could serve as a topic. Al-Jahiz (d. 868), the 
homo universalis of his time, was the unrivaled champion of 
the genre. 

Apart from these 'adab-works, Arabic popular culture 
knew a strong storytelling tradition, but what remained of it is 
scarce: outlines of heroic adventures and etiologies of per- 
sonal names. 

Bringing the sub literary slon telling and the 'adab genre 
together was an innovation introduced from outside the Arab 
. ii Id >t lit i itin i mirroi ol pi ince li 1 ,' Dim 

an adaptation into Arabic bylbn al Aluqaffa (d. c. /60) of the 
original Indian Pancatantra. 

Among the class of the cultural elite in the later Abbasid 
era a unique genre emerged that used rhymed prose as its 
form and was composed following a more or less fixed 
-ith a story of two characters meeting in an urban 
ithout recognizing each other. After a humor- 
ous description of chaos and confusion, recognition occurs 
and all ends in a kind of comical clue. This maaaiiin remained 
popular well into the nineteenth century. With time it be- 
came less bound lo its original structure and could be usetl for 
didactic purposes as well. 

Fiction in the modern sense of the word entered Arabic 

culture with the Arabia n Sights, in which the frame story and 
a number of sub-stories are from an Indian Persian origin 
and enlarged with a number of Egyptian popular stories. 

Modern Arabic Literature 

Normal h, the entering of the Arab world into modern limes is 
identified with Napoleon Bonaparte's temporary occupation 
of Egypt (1789-1801). The obvious difference in culture, 
scientific knowledge, and social structure between the two 
worlds caused Muhammad c Ali (1769-1849), an Albanian 
officer who freed Egypt from Ottoman rule, to direct his 
attention to the West, mainly France. He sent a mission of 
scholars to Paris to gather scientific knowledge that could be 
translated and applied in Egypt. The witness report of this 
mission, written by al-Tahtawi (d. 1873), is one of the earliest 
accounts of the nen confrontation between East and West. 

Another channel of communication between East and 
West had remained open for much longer: the contacts 
between the Maronite community in Syria and the Roman 
Catholic Church of Rome. This contact was parallelled by 
American -based Presbyterian missionary activities in Lebanon. 
This new phase in Middle Eastern history, known as the 
Nahda (sometimes translated as Renaissance), led to the 
establishment of printing presses and newspapers, to Western- 
style schooling, and to nourishing cultural activities. In the 
field of literature it proved to be less obvious to copy Western 
standards and genres. Arab authors initially tried to use old 
foi m lil e the/// , / isa subsi itnlt lo the n in ilivt enrt 
The theme of these regenerated maqamas often had some- 
thing to do with the East-West opposition. 


poetry i 

e difficult to adopt Western 
5 twentieth century the old 

monorhyme/monometer standard of the (jttsida remained 
undisputed. These poets could, however, not escape from 
expressing modern themes. So-called neo-Classicist poets 
could well be expected to eulogize the introduction of radio 
in the 1920s in the most lofty of ways. 

The Mahjar 

As a result of deteriorating economical, social, and political 
circumstances in the second half of the nineteenth century in 
the-then Ottoman province of Syria/Lebanon, a great num- 
ber of Arabs from these regions migrated to the Americas. 
Literary aspirations emerged within these Arab communities, 
resulting in the establishment of Arabic newspapers, literary 
periodicals, and societies, the most prominent of which 
became al-Rabita al Qalamiyya (The Pen Club) in the Bos- 
ton/New York area (1920). Its most famous member (and its 
chairman) was Jibran Khalil Jibran (d. I <y i i ). 

Far from their homeland, confronted with an alien envi- 
ronment, and having lived through the aftermath of existen- 
tial shocks like die First World War and the Titanic disaster. 
these young poets dared to experiment and address ideas, 
themes, and personal emotions that were hitherto unknown 
in Arabic literature. The thematical innovations of this Mahjar 
generation only had their influence on literature in the 
homeland much later, if at all. 

The Romantic Poets and Apollo 

In Egypt the important poets of the 1920s and 1930s were 

deeply influenced by English romantic poets such as William 
Blake (d. 1827), Samuel Coleridge (d. 1834), Lord Byron 
(d.1824), and Percy Shelley (d. 1822). Love, subjectivism, 
inward concentration, and dreamy nationalism were among 
the ingredients of this poetry 

At first the young poets in the Diwan group, named after a 
study in literary criticism, advocated traditional forms, but 
later another group of poets gathered around the periodical 
Apollo promoted experiments in the use of form, partly as a 
consequence of their romantic inspiration, which sometimes 
came close to escapism. 

Arabic Poetry after World War II 

The Second World War hardl) had a direct impact on the 
Arab world, but it was all the more influential in its conse- 
quences. The divide between capitalism and socialism split 
the Arab world as well as Europe, not to mention the 
beginning struggle in many countries for independence from 
the colonialist powers. 

As a reaction to the Romanticism of the twenties and 

thirties post- World War 11 poetry became extremely politi- 
cal the slogan being ilt tun politii il commitment. Antimber 
of these poets gathered around the periodical al-Adab that 
was published in Beirut. The members of this group became 
split by the choice between Marxism and Arab nationalism. 
Iltizam as a concept kept playing a sigihcant role until the 1980s. 

Another innovation came from Iraq: the Free Verse move- 
ment. It advocated the complete abolishment of all tradi- 
tional forms like meter and rhyme, thereby producing blank 
verse or prose poetry. 

Poetry that was so politically motivated could in the end 
only produce its counterpart, in this case the group of poets 
who were being identified with the periodical Shi'r'm Beirut 
(1957-1969). Their poetry can be qualified as intellectual, 
highly sensitive, and open to the West. On the other hand 
symbols that refered to ancient times (Phoenician culture for 
the poets in Syria/Lebanon; Sumerian and Akkadian culture 
for those from Iraq) became popular as an expression of 
nationalist feelings. The most significant poet among this 
general ion was the Syrian c Ali Ahmad Said (also known as 
Adunis(b. 1930), together with Nizar Qabbani (d. 1998), one 
of the most popular poets until the present period. 

Meanwhile in Iraq, but even more so in Egypt, under the 
influence of socialist ideology, iltizam poetry developed to 
social realistic poetry, which in its turn paved the way for 
Palestinian resistance poetry with its strong political bias. 

The Arabic Novel 

Under the influence of Western fiction, especially by French 
romantic novelists, the first attempts to write novels can be 
considered emulations of Western models. The genre of the 
novel was almost entirely strange to Arabic tradition. Some 

early attempts were still shaped like the medieval Arabic 
maqama, but this rhymed prose structure was soon given up. 

Just before the beginning of the twentieth century the 
historic novel emerged, inspired by the works of Sir Walter 
Scott (1771-1832) and Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870). With 
the rise of nationalism around 1910 in Egypt, the scope of 
early novels changed to realistic stories placed in the vivid 
environment of the contemporary Egyptian countryside (e.g., 
Zti\iinb\y\ Mohammad llnsayn Ilaykal [d. 1956], considered 
as the first serious novel in the Arab world, and al-Ayyam by 
Taha Husayn [d. 1973]). 

In the 1920s the influence of French realism and of 
Russian prose made itself felt in short-story writing, but 
Arabic prose really went its own way from the 1930s onw aid, 
when it obtained the psychological dimension of realistic 
autobiography, humor, and social criticism. This opened the 
way to the main directions of post- World War II prose: 
existentialism (Lebanon), social realism (Egypt, Algeria, 
Morocco), social criticism (Egypt, Palestine), neo-realism 
(Egypt), and feminism (throughout the Arab world). A mod- 
ern generation that started to publish in the 1960s added a 
lyrical , ironical, and plainly realistic flavor as a result of which 
modern Arabic prose nowadays complies to international 
standards, n ithotil losing the local color that Arab novelists as 
real storytellers will never neglect. Nagib Mahfuz (b. 191 1) is 
rightly considered to be one of the great international novel- 
ists of the twentieth century. 

vluslim World 

Not Available 

Novelist Nagib Mahfuz, pictured here, won the Nobel Prize in 
literature in 1988. The novel was a completely new genre in 
Arabic when, early in the twentieth century, writers in the Arab 
world began their attempts at long prose. Though these early 
works were heavily dictated by the style of French and Russian 
novels, by the 1930s writers of prose in Arabic began developing 
in many different directions. New York Times Pictures 

Allen, Rouen Ivilpalrick, Hilary; and De Moor, Ed, eds. 

Love and Sexuality in Modern Arabic Literature. London.; 

Saqi, 1995. 
i'ill ' ' i \l I 'I i I i 

Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1975. 
Brugman, J. An Introduction to the History of Modern Arabic 

Literature in Egypt. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1984. 
Grunebaum, Gustave E. von. Themes in Medieval Arabic 

Literature. London: Variorum Reprints, 1981. 
Jad, Ali B. Form and Technique in the Egyptian Novel 1912-1971. 

London: Ithaca Press, 1983. 
Jayyusi, Salma Khadra. Trends and Movements in Modern 

Arabic Poetry. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1977. 
|on< Ian. I /) / hie Pot \ < I 1 Men 

Poems (Edition, Translation and Commentary). Oxford, U.K.: 

Ithaca Press, 1992. 
Ivilpalrick, Hilary. The Modern Egyptian Novel: A Study in 

> I Criti i London lib u a Press, 1974. 
Lichteiisladlei U // In o o CI, cat Arabic Lh 

New York: Schocken Books, 1976. 
Meisami, Julie S., and Starkey, Paul, eds. Encyclopedia of Arabic 

Literature. London and New York: Routledge, 1998. 
Moreh, Shmuel. Modern Arabic Poetry 1800-1970. Leiden: 

E.J. Brill, 1976. 
Pinckney-Stetkevych, Suzanne. The Mute Immortals Speak: 

Pit Islamic Potti \ , i i i'.: Coi 

nell University Press, 1993. 
Somekh, Sasson. The Cha u Rhythm A Study of Najib 

Mahfuz's Novels. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1973. 
Slelkevych, Jaroslav. Muhammad and the Golden Bough. Bloom 

ington: Indian:! University Press, 1996. 

The main reason for the rapid development of prose 
should be sought in the fact that — as opposed to poetry — it 
was a relatively new form in Arabic literature, not burdened 
by age-old tradition. 

In the West, Arabic literature is best known for two 
creations: the I / / s ind the novels of Nagib Mahfuz 

that earned him the Nobel prize for literature in 1988, 
although it is paradoxical that neither can be considered as 
representative of the Arabic literary tradition. 

See a/so Arabic Language; Biography and Hagiography; 
Historical Writing; Persian Language and Literature; 


Allen, Roger. The Arab/, 1 < ryllei agt Lh L) clop me ut oj 
Its Genres and Criticism. Cambridge U.K.: Cambridge 
University Press, 1998. 

Allen, Roger M. A. An Introduction to . trabic Literature. Cam 
bridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000 

Gen Berg 


Also known as the League of Arab Stales (Janii'at al-Duwal 
al- c Arabiyya), the Arab League was founded in 1945 as a 
grouping of Arab states. The Arab League's objectives are to 
solidify cooperation among its members in the areas of 
defense, politics, communications, society, and culture. It has 
its roots in pan Arab nationalism and anticolonialism, but it 
recognizes in principle the independence and sovereignty of 
the diverse nation-states that constitute its membership. Its 
founding members are Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, 
Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Permanently based in Cairo, the 
Arab League now has twenty-two members, the most recent 
to join being Djibouti (1977) and the Comoros Islands 
(1993). The Palestine Liberation Organization (now the 
Palestinian Authority) was launched and given observer sia 
tus by the League in 1964; it won full member status in 1976. 

The League houses a number of specialized agencies, includ 
ing those dealing w ith communication, labor. Palestine, civil 
aviation, and cities. It also convenes the Arab Summit, a 
periodic gathering of Arab heads of state. 

The Arab League has established ties of cooperation and 
mutual consultation with other international and regional 
organizations, including the United Nations and the Organi- 
zation of African Unity. Islamic religion does not constitute 
either its core ideology, nor its primary purpose; Islam is 
notably absent from the League charter. Moreover, theovert 
secular influence that Jamal 'Abd al-Nasser's Egypt exercised 
over the League was a major factor in the creation of the 
Muslim World League in 1962. Nonetheless, the Arab League 
does maintain formal relations with the Organization of the 
Islamic Conference. Islam has also shaped its organizational 
style, as reflected in its flag, w hich lias a cresceni moon (hilal) 
on a green field. 

The League's effectiveness has often been called into 
question. Its efforts to forge a common front against Israel 
have been unsuccessful, as evidenced by the expulsion of 
Egypt for signing the Camp David peace accords with Israel 
in 1979 (Egypt was reinstated in 1987). In March 2002, 
however, it unanimously supported a Saudi-sponsored peace 
initiative that offered recognition of Israel in return for that 
state's withdrawal from the West Bank and the Golan Heights. 
The League has also had mixed success in resolving conflicts 
among its own member states, as demonstrated by its failure 
to prevent Ira i|"s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and its inability 
to force Iraq's withdrawal in the face of international 

See also 'Abd al-Nasser, Jamal; Organization of the 
Islamic Conference. 


Hasou, Tawfiq Y. Tin > I [rob World Egypt's 

Nasser and the Arab League. London, Boston: KPI, 1985. 

Juan Eduurdo Cnmpo 


Islamic architecture is in part comprised of those buildings 

and built environments intended for use in Islamic worship, 
commemoration, and instruction. Among the architecture of 
this group are mosques, madrasas or schools, mausoleums, 
and shrines. Islamic architecture may also be considered as 
the creation of patrons and builders who profess Islam or 
those that live in a region ruled by Muslims. These buildings 
can generally be described as secular', and include .w/c/s (mar 
ketplaces), haninianif, (public baths), kbanf, (inns), caravanseries 
or roadside inns, palaces, and houses. 

Defining Islamic Architecture 

Although Islamic architecture is infinitely varied in plan, 
elevation, building material, and decorative programs, there 
are several recurring forms found in all types of buildings, be 
they religious, secular, public, or private. These basic compo- 
nents are the dome, the arch, and the vault (Fig. 1 a-c). Before 
describing the different aspects of Islamic architecture it is 
important to pause and ask if such a categorization is viable. 

This question stems from three considerations. First is the 
fact that the forms and decorative practices of these buildings 
are largely adaptations of pre- Islamic models. Thus it is not 
improper to ask if Islamic architecture should in fact be 
labeled Classical, Sassanian, or Hindu. If all that was being 
considered were forms emptied of meaning and function then 
the answer to this question would be a resounding yes. The 
second consideration derives from the fact that many of the 
architectural forms considered as Islamic architecture were 
built for secular purposes. How, then, can a religious category 
designate houses, inns, baths, or even cities? Are there essen- 
tial qualities of these secular spaces that give them meaning as 
Islamic architecture? Finally, there is a question of fit. If 
Christians, Jews, and Hindus living within an Islamic region 
build similar forms then would not the designation be too 
narrow? And, conversely is the designation too broad? For 
how can a Malaysian congregational mosque built in the 
twenty-first century be placed under the same analytic cate- 
gory as an Umayyad congregational mosque of the eighth 
century, when they are not built of the same materials and do 
not display common decorative practices or forms? 

While such considerations are beyond the scope of this 
article, it is important to realize that contemporary historians 
of Islamic architectural history weigh these questions criti- 
cally. Some have responded by introducing more specified 
categories of islamic architecture, such as those based on 
regional, dynastic, and chronological designations. Others 
have introduced new analytic models, for example, by study- 
ing the development of certain architectural forms, such as 
the minaret, or a practice, such as the use of public inscrip- 
tions. Taken together, recent scholarship of Islamic architec- 
ture presents a more historically contingent and culturally 
varied approach to the study of Islamic architecture. Many of 
the problems associated with the category of Islamic architec- 
ture arise from w hat is taken as the meaning of architecture. If 
Islamic architecture is simply a material entity, composed of 
classical forms, then the notion of Islamic architecture as 
being distinct from Byzantine or Sassanian becomes ques- 
tionable. However, if by architecture we mean a dynamic 
space that produces relationships between people and helps 
individuals understand and articulate their identity through 
their engagement (or disengagement) with that space then 
the meaningfulness of Islamic architecture can be seen as a 

Basic architectural components 


The Mosque 

The mosque is the preeminent dynamic space that stands at 
the center of Islamic society and culture. It is both a spiritual 
site of worship and a social site of education, debate, and 
discussion of religion, politics, and current events. Arab 
caliphs and their governors were the first builders of architec- 
tural mosques. Emerging from a Bedouin culture that did not 
necessitate permanent architecture, these early Islamic rulers 
adopted and adapted the building traditions of the cultures 
they conquered to guide the formation and style of the new 
mosques. Two notable sources that contributed to the early 
mosques's forms and styles were the Byzantine and Sassanian 
Empires. In the conquered regions previously dominated by 
these cultures Arabs established garrison cities and ordered 
the founded mosques to provide the Islamic community with 
a space to meet and pray. The mosques that appeared in the 
first centuries of Islamic history were either renovated struc- 
tures, for example, Christian churches converted into mosques, 
or they were new buildings constructed from recycled parts of 
abandoned buildings, particularly columns of Roman ruins. 
Some Islamic rulers, such as the Umayyad builders of the 
Dome of the Rock (completed in 692 c.e.) and the Great 
Mosque of Damascus (706-714 c.e.), employed Byzantine 

artisans practiced in mosaic design to decorate their struc- 
tures with dazzling images of vegetation, jeweli y. and Our anic 
inscriptions. Over time, the practice of employing local 
building techniques, decorative practices, and architectural 
forms resulted in mosques of different regions and periods of 
the Islamic world appearing visually dissimilar. They are, 
however, all connected by their principal function: to provide 
a central space for the Islamic community to unite, pray, and 
exchange n 

The prophet Muhammad's house was the first constructed 
mosque (Fig. J). Established soon alter his community moved 
to Medina in 622 c.e., it was a simple, unremarkable enclo- 
sure. The principal consideration of Muhammad's mosque 
was to provide a large, open, and expandable courtyard so the 
ever-growing community could meet in one place. The walls 
of the courtyard were made of mud-brick and had three 
openings. The walls surrounded an open space of about 61 
square yards (56 meters). On the east side of the courtyard 
were the modest living quarters of Muhammad and his 
family. Palm tree trunks were used for the columns and palm 
leaves for the roof of a covered area called the zulla, which was 
built to protect worshipers from the midday sun. The zullti 

House of the prophet Muhammad, Medina 

Zulla (Portico 

marked the direction Muslim prayer was originally oriented — 
north, toward the holy and venerated city of the Jews, 
Jerusalem. Later, Muhammad, while in prayer, received di- 
vine enlightenment that caused him to change the direction 
of prayer south to the Ka'ba in Mecca. The zulla was there- 
fore moved to concur with the new qibla (direction of prayer). 
Besides the qibla, another architectural form introduced at 
the first mosque was the minbar (stepped platform or pulpit) 
from which Muhammad addressed the growing Islamic 

The Prophet's mosque, with its austere plan, large square 
enclosure, orientation toward the qibla, ami minbar, provides 
the basic elements of subsequent mosque architecture. The 
first mosque type to emerge was the hypostyle plan (Fig. 3). 
Its basic unit, the bay (a covered area defined by four col- 
umns), could be expanded upon so the mosque could grow 
with the community. The hypostyle mosque typically has an 
inner courtyard, called they///';/, surrounded by colonnades or 
arcades (riwaqs) on three sides. Within the courtyard there is 
usually an ablutions fountain, where the wudu' (minor ablu- 
tion) is performed before the salat (prayer). There are three 
entrances into the sahn. The principal entrance can be a 
monumental portal as built in Cairo in the Fatimid Mosque of 
al-Hakim (1002 c.e.). Passing through the sahn. the worshiper 
walked into a covered sanctuary area or ha ram. The bam in < >f 
the Great Mosque of Cordoba (786, 962-966 c.e.) is one of 
the most visually breathtaking. The arches of the double-arch 
arcades are composed of alternating red brick courses and 
pale stone voussoirs that when viewed from within the sanc- 
tuary produce a visually captivating labyrinthine configura- 
tion over one's head. Once inside the sanctuary of a mosque 
the focus is the qibla, a directional nail that indicated which 
way to pray. In the center of the wall was often a semicircular 
niche with an arched top, known as the mihrab. In large 
mosques a minbar located to the right of the mihrab was also 
included. It was from atop the minbar that on Fridays the 
i ii i> i h i ed by the imam or prayer-leader. 

The minbar -is based on the stepped platform that was used by 
Muhammad. It ranges from a simple three-step elevation to a 
highly decorated monumental stairway of many steps. The 

very top of the minbar is never occupied as it is symbolically 
reserved as the space of Muhammad, the original imam. 

In large mosques another platform called the dikka is 
provided at the rear of the sanctuary, or in the courtyard, and 
along the same axis as the mihrab. A qadi repeats the sermon 
and prayer from the dikka fi » the ise standing too far from the 
minbar. Located outside of some mosques is a minaret that, 
along with the dome, has become the architectural symbol of 
Islam due to its ubiquitous presence and high visibility. 
Constructed as a tower, it either stands outside the mosque 
precinct or it is attached to the outer walls or portals of the 
mosque. The minaret varies in shape, c 
number depending on the region and building c< 
the patron. Beside-; visually broadcasting the presence of the 
mosque and Islam within a city or landscape the minaret also 
serves as an effective place for the ///// ', nihil hi a or "caller" (also 
iiiiiczz/ii) to perionn the adhan (call to prayer) and be heard 
for a great distance. The maqsurah is a later addition made to 
the hypostyle-plan mosque. It is a differentiated, protective 
space, adjacent to the qibla wall. The maqsurah is found in 
mosques where the imam or ruler wanted either to be pro- 
tected or ceremonially separated from the congregation. It 
was originally built as a raised platform separated with a 
wooden screen that allow ed total to partial concealment of its 

Types of Mosques. There are two general types of mosques. 
The first is the congregational mosque, known as the /////// 
masjid. The jam? (from the Arabic word for "to gather") is 
built on a large scale to accommodate the entire Islamic 
community of a town or city. The second type is known 
simply as masjid (from the Arabic word meaning "to prostrate 
oneself). Masjids are small community mosques used daily 
by members of a quarter, or an ethnic group within a city. 
Mas/i<ls were also constructed as subsidiary structures next to 
m ii ol uni p ,1 ii i ii i in ' i ml hi di isas. Karl 
and ///////' masjids. while different in size, shared the same 
arclmec-tiiral firms and style. However, as Islamic rulers grew 
in wealth and power starting in the late seventh century, they 
built monumental jam? masjids in their cities to reflect the 
preeminence of Islam and the permanence of their dynasty. 
Adapting the basic building elements of vaults, arches, and 
domes, these rulers built mosques that from the exterior 
appeared to span large areas and soar to great heights. To 
create a stunning visual experience in the interior the. jam? 
masjids were ornamented with complex geometric and ara- 
besque or vegetal decoration in mosaic and stucco. Quartered 
marble decora led the lower walls, or dados, and Qur'anicand 
historical inscriptions in stucco and mosaic Arabic script 
engaged the intellect. 

Regional Variation of Mosques. Although there is no one 
style to unify the mosques of the Islamic world, they can be 
divided into broad regional variants. The mosque style of 

central Arabia was an early develi ipment influenced by church- 
building of the Syrian Byzantine Empire and palace-building 
of the Sassanian Persian Empire. In ihe east, ihe ground plans 
of the Great Mosques of Kufa (638 c.e.) and Basra (635 c.e.) 
were square like those of Zoroastrian temples. When the 
GreatMosque of Kufa was rebuilt in 670, its haram was based 
on the apadanas or throne rooms of Achaemenian kings: five 
rows of tall stone columns supporting a teak ceiling. Simi- 
larly, the Great Mosque of Damascus, built by the Umayyad 
caliph al Walid between 706-714, was based on indigenous 
building conventions. Architects used the preexisting enclo- 
sure of the temenos and church, but since the mosque had to be 
oriented to the south, the qibla wall was on the longer side of 
the rectangular space. Also, due to the constraints of the 
preexisting quadrangle, the courtyard was transversal in ori- 
entation rather than longitudinal. The haram contained a 
short, wide central nave with a gabled roof and a wooden 
dome in its center. Three aisles of double tiered arches, 

parallel to die qibla wall, supported a gabled ceiling. Al- 
Walid, wanting to outdo the neighboring churches and 
temples, employed Syrian Christian artisans to richly deco- 
rate the interior of the mosque with imported gold and 
colored mosaics and marble, and even used rock crystal for 
the mibrab. 

The early Abbasid caliphate, ruling from Baghdad from 
749 to 847, first built their mosques with square floor plans as 
the early Umayyads had done in the region. However, after 
the Abbasids moved their capital to Samarra, their mosques 
reflected the rectangular hypostyle form favored by the later 
Umayyads. The Great Mosque of Samarra, built by al- 
Mutawakkil from 848 to 852, was the largest hypostyle 
mosque of its time with nine rows of columns in the sanctuary 
that supported a thirty-five-foot-high ceiling. The mosque is 
most famous for Mahviyva, the colossal spiral minaret. Once 
faced with gold tiles, Malwiyya's greatsize and unusual shape 

made the Great Mosque of Samarra a highly visible presence 
in the surrounding landscape, 

Sub-Saharan West African mosques are unique in their 
use of organic materials that are constant!) replenished over 
time, such as tamped earth, timber, and vegetation. Due to 
seasonal deterioration during the wet and dry seasons, the 
mosques are constantly being repaired and resurfaced. The 
predominant quality of these structures is their rounded 
organic form, reinforced with projecting limber beams or 
torons, which also serve as supports for scaffolding when the 
mosque is being resurfaced. The Great Mosque of Djenne 
(thirteenth century) is the most representative of the West 
African mosques. Its tall rounded towers and engaged col 
umns, which act as buttresses, easily flow into each other and 
gh e the structure its characteristic verticalily and o\ erwhelming 
ma lest \ . 

The central-planned, domed mosque of the Ottomans is 
yet another distinctive type. When the Ottomans conquered 
Constantinople in the fifteenth century they converted the 
Byzantine church of Ilagia Sophia into a mosque by framing 
it with two pointed minarets. Later in the nineteenth century 
they added roundels inscribed u ilh calligraphic writing of the 
names of Muhammad, Allah, -M\d the early caliphs. Using the 
Hagia Sophia as their prototype, Ottoman rulers built mosques 
in the principal cities of their empire. The mosques were 
defined by large spherical domes, with smaller half-domes at 
the corners of the square, and four distinctively shaped 
minarets — tall, fluted, and needle-nosed — that were typi- 
cally placed at the exterior corners of the mosque complex. 
The Selimiye Cami (Mosque of Selim) in Edirne, Tur- 
key (1507-1574), best characterizes the central-plan Otto- 
man mosque. 

Moving further east to Seljuk Iran, another type of mosque 
emerges known as the four-iwan mosque. The iivan is an open 
vaulted space with a rectangular portal or pkhttiq. In a Seljuk 
mosque four of these iwans would be oriented around a 
central courtyard. The Great Mosque of Isfahan, built in this 
style in the twelfth century, is a monumental icmx-iwan 
mosque. Of these, the principal or r/ibla iwan is the largest, 
ilh i I irgi dorm d iqsnn ind itiqarii mllin > ho lend it 
further visual impact, two minarets were added at the corners 
of the portal. The iwan thai stood opposite die r/ibla hvan 
followed in size, and it was both smaller and shallower. The 
lateral iwans were the smallest. While the exterior of the 
mosque was unadorned, the inward-facing iwans were deco- 
rated with architectural ceramic tiles of turquoise, cobalt 
blue, white, deep yellow, and green. The decorative designs 
contained geometric and arabesque patterns as well as Kufic 
inscriptions. The layout of the Great Mosque of Isfahan 
influenced countless other mosques in Iran, Central Asia, and 
South Asia. 

From their start, the mosques of South Asia were syncretic 
structures. They were the by-products of hired Hindu ma- 
sons, indigenous architectural material taken from destroyed 
or decaying Hindu buildings, and necessary elements of 
mosque architecture such as the mihrab. The mosques were 
trabeated at first and decorated with popular Hindu motifs 
such as vegetal scrolls and lotuses. The plans of South Asian 
most] ties ranged from Lraditional hypostyle, lo Persian lour 
iwan types, and to single-aisle domed plans. The earliest 
mosques of the Delhi sultanate (1192-1451) were hypostyle 
and built out of reused materials from Hind u and 1 ain I emples 
such as the Quwwat al-Islam in Delhi of the late twelfth 
century. The greatest achievement of this mosque is the 
monumental minaret, the QutbMinar. Standing at 238 feet it 
was a victory tower that announced the power of the new 
religion to the surrounding landscape. 

The next significant mosque type of South Asia is the 
single aisle plan with five bays that used stucco and colored 
stones as surface decoration and squinch and muqarnas vault- 
ing. These mosques had monumental central portals and 
domes. The Bara Gumbad mosque in Delhi, built by Sultan 
Sikandar Lodi in 1494, and the QaPa-e-Kuhna mosque of 
Sher Shah (1540-1545) exemplify this style. It was this basic 
form of mosque architecture that was later adopted by the 
great Mogul dynasty (1426-1848). Two exemplary Mogul- 
style mosques are Akbar's Great Mosque of Fatehpur Sikri 
(1571-1572) and Shah Jahan's Great Mosque at Delhi 
(1650-1656). These mosques have large courtyards and are 
built from the local red sandstone combined with white 
marble to create decorative geometric and vegetal patterns. 
file dislincti feature of Akbai i > i i i I iteh| in 1 i 
the monumental portal on the south side called the Buland 
Darwaza. Its form is that of a colossal pisbtiir/ (tall central 
portal), derived from Timurid origins. It is embellished with 
native Indian architectural elements as well such as small 
open pavilions called cbntris ami lotus shaped medallions. 
Located on the west side of the great courtyard is the 
sanctuary, a three-domed prayer itail with a centra! pisbtaq. 
The Great Mosque of Delhi was based on the tour-iwan plan. 
Three onion-shaped bulbous marble domes surmount the 
qibla iwan, the same shape used for the dome of the Taj 
Mahal. The minarets are divided into four parts and are 
capped nidi small pavilions. Smaller, private mosques built 
for the Mughal palaces of Lahore, Agra, and in Delhi reflect 
the fine marble caning skills of the Indian artisans. Faced 
with white marble, elegantly carved with vegetal patterns, 
these mosques were then topped with graceful onion shaped 
domes will) lotus molding and metallic finials. These private 
imperial mosques were the architectural counterparts of the 
elegant gems so highly prized by the Mughals. 

Shrines and Mausoleums 

Shrines and mausoleums thai commemorate important places 
and people of the Islamic world comprise another important 
component of sacred Islamic architecture. The first great 

shrine was al-Haram al- Sharif or Dome of the Rock in 
Jerusalem. Built between 687 and 69 1 by the Umayyad caliph 
'Abel al Malik, it covers a renowned irregular rock formation. 
Muslims believe that is was from this rock that Muhammad 
began his night journey, or isra', to heaven. Located on the 
"hem pie Mount of Mount Moriah its golden dome is seen for 
miles reflecting in the landscape. The sanctuary of the Dome 
of the Rock is in the shape of an octagon and is surmounted In 
a tall drum and dome. The rock is su rrounded by a screen and 
then a circular arcade ol alternating columns and piers. Next 
is an octagonal arcade that is surrounded by the outer walls 
that together create a double ambulatory. A frieze of Kufic 
inscriptions in gold tile on blue background is found on the 
inside and outside of the octagonal arcade. It is the first 
occurrence of Qur'anic inscription in Islamic architecture. 
Adding to the sumptuous quality of the interior are other 
mosaics of turquoise, blue, and green tiles that could be 
depictions of the lush foliage of Paradise, and royal insignia of 
those vanquished In Muslim conquest. 

The mausoleums of imams, rulers, the wealthy, and saints 
comprise the other part oflslamic commemorative architec- 
ture. Although the prophet Muhammad dictated that burials 
should he simple and without grave mailer*, mausoleums are 
found throughout the Islamic world. Following the forms of 
the Dome of the Rock and the Byzantine martyrium, which 
the former was also inspired by, the Muslims founded their 
own funerary architecture. The basic form of the mausi ileu m 
was a square enclosure, derived from the shape of a house 
where the dead were traditionally buried, surmounted by a 
dome. In cities such as Mamluk Cairo (1250-1517), the 
domed square plan compelled builders to plan vertically 
instead of laterally due to spatial and structural constraints of 
preexisting streets. To deflect the admonitions of die Muslim 
orthodox that perceived tomb building as irreligious, Arab 
builders in North Africa, Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, and 
the Levant made the mausoleum part of larger religious 
com [ilexes. The mausoleum is thus often one part of a 
complex composed of a mosque, madrasa, or religious school, 
and sometimes a hospil I oi (i idenct ol i n i 

leader). Although the buildings had unique functions, they 
shared the same architectural elements. The architects uni- 
fied the complex with geometric and arabesque designs to 
decorate the buildings, marble revetment, wtif/trn/tisor stalac- 
tite vaults (also called honeycomb vault), and ceramic tiles, 
among countless other regional variants and conventions. 

While the mausoleum met with periodic waves of disap- 
proval in the Arabian world it was a lulh acceptable form in 
the Persianate world of Iran, Anatolia, Iraq, Central Asia, 
Afghanistan, and South Asia. The two basic forms of Persianate 
mausoleum are the yurt inspired tomb tower such as the 
northern Iranian Gunbad-e Qabus (1007) and the domed 
square and later octagonal tombs, like the Tomb of the 
Samanids in Bukhara (tenth century), the Ilkhanid Sultanh a 
mausoleum of Iljeytu (early fourteenth century), and the 

famous Taj Mahal (1631-1643) of Shah Jahan in India. In 

eleventh-century Egypt another type of mausoleum emerged 
called the canopy mausoleum, because it was open to the 
elements. An example of this type is the Fatimid funerary 
complex of Sab'a Banal in Fustal. A later Fatimid develop 
mentofthe mausoleum form is the imidikml, a large square 
domed tomb connected to a three-room unit entered through 
a portal and organized around a courtyard that served pil- 
grims. The rnashhad of Sayyida Ruqayya, an Alid saint, built 
in 1133, is an example of this type of mausoleum. The final 
type of mausoleum to be considered here makes skillful use of 
one of the most famous architectural forms: the muqarnas. A 
stalactite squinch usually found in the transitional zones 
belwi m ill an. I dome the/;/// <',-,- used ii ,.11 i pt oi 
Islamic architecture. During the Ayyubid (1099-1250) and 
Mamluk (1250- 1517) periods, the mausoleum was brought 
out of the cemetery and into the urban fabric. With their 
increased visibility these tombs became centers for transmit- 
ting political information and education of the Sunni relig- 
ious schools of law. They were also, gathering centers for the 
followers of Sufism. Building the mausoleum in the city of 
Cairo compelled a fen changes in design. As there was little 
room to build laterally, the locus of the architecture was on 
the drum and dome of the building. I mill e.\ er higher and with 
more richly textured transitional zones and domes. 

Secular Architecture 

One of the secular types oflslamic architecture is the palace. 
which matches the mosque in reflecting the rich variety of 
forms, ornamentation, and the sophisticated skills of artisans. 
Built as large complexes rather than singular units. Islamic 
palaces were generally self-sustaining, and most contained 
bastion walls, towers, gates, baths, stables, private quarters, 
public meeting spaces, workshops, offices, hospitals, htinims 
or zciiiiuus (reserved for the women of the palace), libraries, 
pavilions, fountains, and gardens. These palaces were built as 
the architectural embodiment of the ruler, the spatial meta- 
phor of his dominion, and, if built in idyllic settings with 
urn t inn i rdens, were considered earthly paradi lb 
first palaces were built by the Umayyads and were modeled 
after Roman villas. Serving as hunting lodges or rural resi- 
dences these include the Qasr ai llayr, khirbat al-Mafjar, 
and Khirbat al-Minya of the eighth century. Other well- 
known palaces are the Fatimid Palace of al Qahira (1087-1092), 
Umayyad Madinal al Zaltira of Cordoba Wo 976), theNasrid 
Alhambra in Granada, Spain (early fourteenth century), the 
Ottoman Topkapi complex, and Mogul Falehpur Sikri and 
Red Fort, built in Delhi during the sixteenth century. 

Islamic secular architecture is also public in nature. Among 
these buildings are the caravanseries and bamvuims. The 
caravanserai was a stopping place for travelers to rest and 
water and feed their animals. A typical caravanserai had a 
large open courtyard with a single large pi trial. Inside, along 
the walls, were covered arcades that contained identical stalls 

to accommodate a traveler, and his servants. Animals were 
ustialh kept in ihe courtyard or stables located in the corners. 
Caravansaries were usually fortified with bastions and turreted 
walls. As with mosques and palaces, caravansaries vary in 
ornamentation and form from region to region. Inside the 
city the khan housed the travelers and merchants. These 
structures were multistoried and m erlooked a central court- 
yard. The animals and goods were kept on the ground floor 
and apartments were located above. 

The public bath or hammam was another architectural 

form found in many Islamic cities. Along v, ilh the khan it was 
located in the suq or marketplace. Adopted from the Romans, 
the hammam was used for washing and purification before 
Friday prayer. It was composed of large rooms for steam 
baths as well as others for soaking in hot and cold water, all of 
which communicated through wa i tin g halls. Utilizing- marble 
covered floors and walls, arches, large ornamented domes 
that helped circulate hot air, muqarnas vaults, and stucco 
decoration, some public baths were liighh luxurious environ 
ments. Men and women bathed separately either in their own 
hamma m, if there were two in a town, or on different days or 
at designated times. 

Residential Architecture 

The final type of Islamic architecture to be considered is the 
domestic. The typical house built in Islamic societies is 
oriented inward. A bent entrance that turns at a sharp angle 
marks trie transition fri >m the outside world to the home. The 
entrances of homes do not usually align w ith those across the 
street, so the privacy of the interior is maintained. On the 
inside the rooms are arranged around a central courtyard and 
range from the private spaces of the family to semiprivate 
spaces where male guests, who were not members of the 
family, could enter. The open courtyard ventilates the house. 
A central basin or fountain, part of most courtyards, also 
provides a cooling effect and the soothing sound of falling- 
water. In more prosperous households delicately carved 
wooden screens called it were used to create 

private space, filter air from the outside, and allow light to 
enter the home. The exterior of an Islamic house is often left 
unadorned. Only upon entering the home will the visitor 
know the class status of the owner. 

See also Adhan; Art; Dome of the Rock; Holy Cities; 
Jami'; Manar, Manara; Mashhad; Masjid; Mihrab; 
Minbar (Mimbar); Religious Institutions. 


Abu-Lughod, Janet. "The Islamic City: Historical Myth, 
Islamic Essence, and Contemporary Relevance." Interna- 
tional Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 19 (1987): 155-176. 

Blair, Sheila S., and Bloom, Jonathan M. "The Mirage of 
Islamic Art: Reflections on the Study of an Unwieldy 
Field." Art Bulletin 85 (2003): 152-184. 

Bloom, Jonathan. Minaret: Symbol of Islam. Oxford, U.K.: 

Oxford University Press, 1989. 
Creswell, K. A. C. A Short Account of Early Muslim Architec- 
ture. 2d ed. Aldershot, U.K.: Scholar Press, 1989. 
Frishman, Martin, and Hasan-Uddin, Khan, eds. The Mosque: 

History, Architect a i il /)< clop mt , Regional Diversity. 

London: Thames and Hudson, 1994. 
Grabar, Oleg. The Formation of Islamic Art. New Haven, 

Conn.: Yale University Press, 1987. 
Hillenbrand, Robert. Islamic _ Irchitecture: Form, Function and 

Meaning. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. 
Hoag, John D. Islamic Architecture. New York: Abrams, 1977. 
Michell, George, ed. Architecture of the Islamic World: Its 

History and Social } leaning (1978). New York: Thames and 

Hudson, 1984. 

Santhi Kiii'iiri-Baucr 


Islamic art is generally reckoned to cover all of the visual arts 
produced in the lands where Muslims were an important, if 
not the most important, segment of society. Islamic art 
differs, therefore, from such other terms as Buddhist or 
Christian art, for it refers not only to the arts produced h\ or 
for the religion of Islam but to the arts of all Islamic cultures. 
Islamic art was not necessarih created by or for Muslims, for 
some Islamic art was made by Christian, Jewish, or even 
Hindu artists working for Muslim patrons, and some Islamic 
art was created for non-Muslim patrons. The term does not 
refer to a particular style or period, but covers a broad 
purview, encompassing the arts produced over one-fifth of 
the globe in the traditional heartland oflslam (from Spain to 
India) during the last fourteen hundred years. 

At the beginning of the twenty-first century Islam is the 
world's fastest growing religion. It has spread beyond the 

traditional heartland oflslam in North Africa, ihe Near East, 
and west Asia to southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 
Muslims comprise nearly one-quarter of the world's popula- 
tion; the largest Muslim populations are in southeast Asia, 
and there are sizable Muslim communities in Europe and 
North America. The term Islamic art is therefore becoming 
increasingly urns ieldy, and in current usage concerning mod 
ern art, the adjective 'Islamic" is often restricted to purely 
religious expressions such as calligraphy. 

The idea of an Islamic art is a distinctly modern notion, 
developed not by the culture itself but by art historians in 

Europe and America trying to understand a relatively unfa 
miliar world and to place the arts created there into the newly 
developing field of an fusion , In light of the nationalism that 
developed during the early twentieth century, some scholar;. 

particularly those in the Islamic hinds, questioned the use of 
the term, opting- instead for nationalistic names, speaking of, 
say, Turkish or Persian art. But these terms are also mislead 
ing, for Islam has traditionally been a multiethnic and 
multicultural society, and it is impossible to distinguish the 
contribution of, for example, Persia n speaking artists in what 
is today Turkey. Other scholars, particularly in the late 
twentieth century, have questioned the term Islamic art as too 
general, since it refers neither to the art of a specific era nor to 
that of a particular place or people. Instead, they opt for 
regional or dynastic categories such as Maghribi (i.e., North 
African) or Mamluk (1 e I ypti i nd ! rian thirteenth to 
sixteenth centuries) art. While these terms can be useful, they 
overlook the common features that run through much of the 
art created in the traditional lands of Islam and fragment the 
picture, particularly for those who are unfamiliar with this 
area and its rich cultural traditions. Without slighting the 
differences among the arts created in different regions in 
different periods, this entry focuses on the common features 
that run through many of the arts created within the broad 
rubric of Islamic art: the distinct hierarchy of forms and the 
themes of decoration. 


Apart from architecture, the arts produced in the Islamic 
lands follow a different formal hierarchy than that of Western 
art, where paint ing and sculpture are the two most important 
forms and are used to make religions images for worship. 
These forms play a relatively minor role in Islamic art, where 
instead the major forms of artistic expression are the arts of 
the book, textiles, ceramics, woodwork, metalwares, and 
glass. In Western art, these are often called the "minor," 
"decorative," or "portable" arts, but such labels are pejora- 
tive, implying that these forms are secondary, less meaningful 
and less permanent than the more important, stable, and 
therefore "noble" arts of painting and sculpture. To use such 
terms is to view the world of an from the vantage point of the 
West, and one of the significant features of Islamic art is that 
it introduces the viewer to different ways of looking at art. 

Bookmaking. Of all the arts created in the Islamic lands, the 
most revered was the art of the book, probably because of the 
veneration accorded to writing the revealed word of God. 
( lalligraphers were deemed the most important type of artist 
and paid the most for their work. They penned many fine 
manuscripts, but the fanciest were exquisite copies of the 
Qur'an. Those made for use in a congregational mosque were 
large, multivolume sets, often divided into either seven or 
thirty parts so that the entire text could be read over the 
course of a week or a month. Personal copies of the Qur'an 
were generally smaller, but they, too, often had fine penman- 
ship. The great reverence for writing spilled over into the 
production of other texts, particularly in Iran, India, and 
Turkey, and it was one of the reasons that printing with 
movable type only began to be adopted in the Islamic lands in 
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

Most fine manuscripts made in the Islamic lands also had 
fine decoration. In early times the calligrapher seems to have 
also been responsible for the illumination, which was usually 
added after the writing. For example, the famous scribe 
known as Ibn al-Bawwab (his nickname literally means "son 
of a doorman") did both the writing and the decoration in a 
fine but small copy of the Qur'an made at Baghdad betw een 
1000 and 1001. In early times calligraphers may have pre- 
pared all their own materials, but from the fourteenth century 
onward, the crafts became increasingly specialized, and we 
know of distinct calligraphers, illuminators, and binders. In 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, they were joined by a 
host of other specialists, ranging from draftsmen to gold 
beaters, gold sprinklers, rubricators (those who drew the 
lines), and the like. All worked together in a team to produce 
some of the most sublime books ever created in which all the 
elements were carefully harmonized in a unified and bal- 
anced whole. 

Textiles. A second major art form popular in the traditional 
Islamic lands is textiles. They were the most important 
economically and have often been likened to the heavy 
industries of modern times. The four main fibers used were 
wool, cotton, linen, and silk, but the making of fine textiles lav 
not only in producing the fibers, but even more in the expel tse 
of procuring the dyes, the mordants to fix the colors, the 
materials for the looms, and the transport of both fibers and 
finished goods. It is often hard for moderns iewers to appreci 
ale these textiles, since few have survived from medieval times 
intact. Most were literally worn to shreds, and. unlike in other 
cultures, only a handful were preserved as grave goods since 
Muslims traditionally wrap the hod) in a plain while sheet for 
burial. Nevertheless in their own times, these textiles were 
immense!) valuable not only in the Muslim lands but also 
across the globe: Medieval Europeans commonly used im- 
ported Islamic textiles to wrap the bones of their saints, and 
hence, paradoxically, most medieval Islamic textiles have 
been preserved in Chrisl 

Textiles were also important for the history of art. Until 

large sheets of paper to make patterns and cartoons became 
readily available in the fourteenth century, motifs and designs 
were often disseminated through the medium of textiles. 
Textiles are readily portable — they can be folded and carried 
on an animal's back without fear of breaking — and were 
transported over vast distances between Spain and Central 
Asia. The mechanical nature of weaving on a loom also 
encouraged the production of multiples and the use of sym- 
metrical, repeating, and geometric designs that are character 
istic of much Islamic art. 

Of all textiles, the one most identified vs ith the traditional 
Islamic lands is the knotted carpet. Indeed the traditional 
heartland of Islam is often dubbed "the rug belt." Technically 
the knotted carpet consists of a textile in which additional 

threads, usually wool or silk, are knotted into a woven 
substratum to form a furry surface. The origins of the 
technique are obscure and contnn ersial, with different ethnic 
groups claiming precedence. Carpet weaving was already 
practiced for a millennium before the advent of Islam and 
may well have been developed by nomads to take advantage 
of the materials at hand, namely the wool produced by the 
sheep they herded. Nomads typically used portable looms, 
which could he dismantled and carried on horseback when 
the camp moved, to weave small carpets with a limited 
repertory of geometric designs that u ere generated from the 
technique of weaving itself. 

In the fourteenth century this individual or family craft 
was transformed into a cottage or village industry. Carpets 
became larger and were made in multiples, with some groups 
available for export. They were expensive items used by the 
rich and powerful as status >;\ mbols. Depictions of enthroned 
rulers ranging from Mongol manuscripts of the Persian 
national epic to Italian panel paintings oi the Madonna and 
Child prominently display Islamic knotted carpets beneath 
the throne, testifying to their international status. 

Carpet-weaving was transformed again in the sixteenth 
century into a national industry. Rulers of the Safavid and 

Ottoman dynasties set up state workshops with room-sized 
looms that required teams of weavers to produce carpets 
measuring over twenty ieei across. Unlike the carpet-weaving 
of nomads, which could be put down or picked up at will, 
these large scale enterprises required vast amounts of materi 
ais prepared and purchased before work began to insure a 
uniform product. Designers prepared paper patterns with 
elaborate floral designs that could only be executed success- 
full • ilh hnndi i! if 1 nol pel qu ire inc n Sonn d< i >,u 
even emulated the design of traditional Persian gardens, with 
depictions of water channels filled with fish, ducks, and geese 
crossing and dividing rectangular parterres planted with 
cypresses, fruit trees, and flowers. When the carpet was 
spread on the floor, the person sitting on it would have been 
surrounded by a verdant refreshing garden. 

Metals, Ceramics, and Glasswares. Other common art- 
forms created in the Muslim lands comprise metalwares, 
ceramics, and glasswares. These techniques have been dubbed 
the "arts of fire" as they are based on the use of fire to 
transform mineral;, extracted from the earth into works of art. 
The discovery of fire to transform humble materials into 
utensils was one of the hallmarks of the rise of civilization in 
West Asia, and the manufacture of shimmering metalwares, 
and glass continued to be characteristic of the 

Islamic lands until modern times. Iron and copper alloys were 
crailed into weapons, tools, ami utensils, while silver and gold 
were made into jewelry and coins. Ceramics were used for 
storage, cooking, and serving food, and glass was used for 
lighting, keepin i i in i >od d l< n perfumesand 
medicines. Unlike the < mi dan! nd svhere^ I fsilvei 
and gold were used in church liturgy, Islam required no such 
luxury objects in the mosque, and the finest bowls, plates, and 
pitchers are merely expensive versions of objects used in 
daily life. 

Base metal, ceramic, and glass shapes were also made in 
such rare and eoslh materials as gold and silver, rock crystal, 
jade, and ivory. 'Hie pious disapproved of using gold vessels, 
and many items of precious metal were melted down for coin 
in times of need. A rare silver box made for the Spanish 
Umayyad heir-apparent Abu Walid Hisham in 976 is the 
same shape and dimensions as an ivory example made for the 
Spanish Umayyad chamberlain 'AIk! al Malik in Spain be- 
tween 1004 and 1005. The metal box even copies the details 
of the ivory box, including the strap over the top, which is 
hammered from the same sheet of silver as the rest of the lid. 
The strap is useless on the silver box, but imitates the metal 
strap that would have held the lid in place on a wooden or 
ivory box. 

Another case of similar vessels in different media is the 
series of small jugs made for the Timurid rulers of Central 
Asia in the fifteenth century. Some gold ones are il lustra Led in 
contemporary manuscripts, and examples survive in several 
materials, including jade, metal, and ceramic. The jugs, which 
measure about 6 inches (1 3 cenlimetei I hi It hai i globulai 
body and short cylindrical neck with a handle shaped like a 
dragon. The shape derives from Chinese porcelains. The 
inscriptions on the Timurid examples make it clear that they 
were wine jugs, and the various materials correspond to the 
rank of the patron. Jade, technically a type of white nephrite, 
became available after the Timurids seized the jade mines in 
Khotan in Chinese Turkestan. The use of jade was reserved 
for rulers, as it was not only rare and expensive but also 
thought to counteract poison. Timurid rulers and their courti- 
ers also commissioned similar jugs made of brass, sometimes 
inlaid with gold and silver, but some anonymous examples 
were probably made for sale on the open market as were the 
cheaper ceramic ones. 

Themes of Decoration 

Unlike other artistic traditions, particularly the Chinese, 
where form alone can be considered sufficient to turn an 
object into a work of art, much Islamic art is highh decorated. 
Surfaces were elaborately adorned using a wide variety of 
techniques and motifs. While different styles of decoration 
were popular at different times and places, several themes of 
decoration occur everywhere. These include figural decora- 
tion, flowers, geometry, color, and writing. 


Figural Imagery. Many people believe that images of people 
are forbidden in Islam, but this assumption is wrong. The 
Qur' an forbids idolatry, butithas little i i on the subject of 
figural representation, which was apparently not a subject of 
great importance in Arabia during the late sixth and early 
seventh centuries. Furthermore, Muslims have little need to 
depict images in their religious art. For Muslims, God is 
unique, without associate; therefore He cannot be repre- 
sented, except by His word, the Qur'an. Muslims worship 
God direct!) vs ithout intercessors, so they have no need for 
images oi saints, as Christians do. The prophet Muhammad 
was human, not divine, so Muslims do not worship him as 
Christians worship Jesus. Furthermore, the Qur'an is not a 
continuous narrative. Thus, Muslims do not need religious 
images to proselytize in the way that Christians use depic- 
tions of Christ or stories from the Bible to teach their faith. 

Over time this lack of images hardened into law, and the 
absence of figures, technically known as aniconism, became a 
characteristic feature of Islamic religious art. Thus, mosques, 
mosque furnishings such as viuiburs (pulpits) and viihrubs 
(recesses in the wall facing Mecca), and other types of relig- 
ious buildings such as madrasas do not usually contain pic- 
tures of people. But there is no reason that Muslims cannot 
depict people in other places and settings. Thus palaces 
could, and indeed often did, have images of people, particu- 
larly servants, guards, and other members of a ruler's retinue. 
Similarly, bathhouses were often decorated with bathers, 
sometimes nude, and other scenes of relaxation ,wA pleasure. 

These types of secular building were often more architectur 
ally inventive than religious structures, which tended to 
follow traditional lines. But secular structures have not sur- 
vived as well as mosques and religious structures, which were 
continuously venerated and maintained, and so the historical 
record is spotty, and many of the best-known secular build- 
ings to survive in the Islamic lands are those that have long 
been abandoned. Archaeological excavation and restoration 
of such sites as the bathhouse at Qusayr Amra, built in the 
Jordanian desert by the Umayyads in the early eighth cen- 
tury, and Samarra in Iraq, the sprawling capital built by the 
Abbasids upstream from Baghdad in the mid-ninth century, 
show that already in early Islamic times bathhouses and 
palaces were decorated with pictures of people engaging in 
:s inappropriate in religio 

Similarly, copies of the Qur'an do not have pictures of 
people, but many nonreligious books made in the Islamic 
lands do. These range from scientific treatises to histories, 
chronicles, and literary works, both prose and poetry. Some- 
times, illustrations were needed to explain the text, as in 
copies of al-Sufi's treatise on the fixed stai ;, al-1 kit ai 
th libit a. They show that the classical tradition of depicting the 
constellations as humans and animals was continued in Islamic 
times. Sometimes, however, illustrations were added even 
when the text did not demand them. One of the most 
frequently illustrated texts to survive from medieval Islamic 
times is al-Hariri's Maqamat (Seances or Sessions). Eleven 
illustrated copies produced before 1350 have survived, and 
the number suggests that there were once many more. This 
work recounts the picaresque adventures of the cunning 
merchant Abu Zayd as he travels throughout the Muslim 
world, hoodwinking his rivals. The success of the text, which 
became very popular among the educated bourgeoisie of the 
Arab lands, depended on its verbal pyrotechnics, with triple 
puns, subtle allusions, and complex rhymes. The illustrations 
emphasize a different aspect of the text — the protagonist's 
adventures in faraway lands — and provide rare glimpses of 
daily life in medieval times, including scenes of villages, 
markets, and libraries. 

The tradition of figural imagery was particularly strong in 
the Persian world, which had a long history of figural repre 
sentation stretching back to pre-Islamic times, and the illus- 
trated books made there and in the nearby Persian-speaking 
lands such as India from the fourteenth century onward have 
some of the most stunning illustrations ever painted. Virtu- 
ally all of them include people and animals, both real and 
imaginary. A few even include images of the prophet Mu- 
hammad, but these are not meant as religious icons but to 
illustrate hist out I or literary 1 ITi i die Prophet's 

mystical journey from Jerusalem to heaven and back men- 
tioned in the Qur'an (17:1), was elaborated, particularly by 

ii i i ) ti ind seen Uu Li tin U mi i< nl I o the 
Prophet on his mystical steed Buraq. In some cases the 

Prophet's face is visible, but by Ottoman tin 

reaction had set in and artists often covered his face and even 

his body with a veil. 

Since figural imagery was unnecessary in Islamic religious 
art, other themes of decoration became more important. 
Many of them had been subsidiary elements in the arts of pre- 
Islamic times. In Byzantine art, for example, depictions of 
people had been set off, framed, or linked by vegetal designs 
(that is, stylized fruits, flowers, and trees) and geometric 
elements (shapes and patterns). In Islamic times, these sub- 
sidiary elements were transformed into major artistic themes. 
At first artists used recognizable elements, such as trees or 
plants, as in the mosaics used in the Great Mosque of 
Damascus erected by the Umayyad caliph al Walid in the 
early eighth century. With the grow ing reluctance to depict 
figures, such specific and realistic representations were re- 
placed by more stylized, abstracted, and geometricized motifs. 

Geometry. Such an abstract style was already popular by the 
ninth century and is found on carved plaster and woodwork 
made from North Africa to Central Asia. The extraordinary 
range of this style suggests a common origin in the Abbasid 
capital:; of Iraq, and German excavations at the site of Samarra 
in the early twentieth century uncovered many examples in 
molded and carved stucco. The most distinct type uses a 
slanted, or beveled, cut, which allowed the plaster slab to be 
released quickly from the mold. In the beveled style, motifs 
are abstracted and geometricized and the distinction between 
foreground and background is blurred. 

This type of design based on natural forms such as stems, 
tendrils, and leaves rearranged to form infinite geometric 
patterns became a hallmark ol Islamic art produced between 
the tenth century and the fifteenth. To describe it, Europeans 
coined the word "arabesque," literally meaning "in the Arab 
style," in the fifteenth or sixteenth century when Renaissance 
artists incorporated Islamic designs in book ornament and 
decorative bookbindings. Over the centuries the word has 
been applied to a wide variety of winding, twining vegetal 
decoration in art and meandering themes in music. 

The nineteenth-century Viennese art historian Alois Riegl 
laid out the principal features of the arabesque in Islamic art. 
In it, the tendrils of die \ egelalion do not branch off from a 
single continuous stern, as they do in nature, but rather grow 
unnaturally from one another to form a geometric pattern. 
He pointed out that the arabesque also has infinite corre- 
spondence, meaning dial the design can be extended indefi- 
nitely in any direction. The structure of the arabesque gives 
the viewer sufficient information to extend the design in his 
or her imagination. 

The popularity of the arabesque was due no doubt to its 
adaptability, for it was appropriate to virtually all situations 
and media, from paper to woodwork and ivory. It was used on 

the illuminated pages that were added 10 decorate the begin- 
ning and end of fine manuscripts, particularly copies of the 
Qur'an. These decorated pages became increasingly elabo- 
rate and are often called carpet pages. The largest and finest 
were produced in Egypt and Syria during the period of rule 
by the Mamluks (r. 1250-1517). The frontispieces in these 
grand manuscripts of the Qur'an (some measure a whop- 
ping 30 inches, or 75 cm, high) are decorated with elabo- 
rate geometric designs of polygons radiating from central 
star shapes. 

From the fourteenth century the arabesque was gradually 
displaced by nmre naturalistic designs of chrysanthemum, 
peony, and lotus flowers, motifs adopted from Chinese art 
during die period of Mongol rule in Iran, This floral style was 
disseminated westward to the Ottomans, riders of the eastern 
Mediterranean region after 1453 from their capital at islan 
bul. Artists working at the court of the longest-reigning 
and most powerful of the Ottoman sultans, Suleyman (r. 
1620 1666). developed a distinct flora! style with composite 
flowers and slender, tapering leaves with serrated edges. 
Designers working in the court studio drew up patterns in 
this style, which craftsmen then executed in various media. 
ranging from ceramics to textiles. 

The pervasiveness of geometric designs throughout Islamic 
art has been traced to the importance of textiles, and Golombek 
coined the phrase "the draped universe of Islam." The pro- 
duction of fibers and dyes formed the mainstay of the medie- 
val islamic economy. In addition to clothing, textiles were the 
main furnishings of dwellings and even, in the form of tents, 
the dwellings themselves. The central role of textiles is 
underscored by lire Ka'aba in Mecca, which .Muslims believe 
is the house that Ibrahim (Abraham) erected for God and 
which is the central shrine of Islam, a cubic stone building 
that has been veiled in cloth coverings since the dawn of the 
faith. The structure of weaving favors angular designs based 
on the intertwining of warp and weft, and interlaced designs, 
found even in writing, may be another example of the textile 
mentality that permeated Islamic society. 

Color. Another theme that runs through much Islamic art is 
the exuberantuse of color. Bright and vivid colors are found 
not only in illustrated manuscripts, but also in media where 
they might not be expected. For example, metalworkers in 
the Islamic lands developed the technique of inlay, in which a 
vessel made of one metal (typically bronze or brass) is inlaid 
with another (typically, silver, copper, or gold). Designs were 
further set off in a bituminous black that absorbs light, in 
contrast to the surrounding metallic surfaces that reflectit. In 
this way, metal workers could decorate their wares with 
elaborate scenes that resembled paintings or work out enor- 
mous inscriptions that seem to glow from the object and set 
off the patron's name or Qur'anic text in lights, as it were. 

Woodworkers achieved similar effects by combining ivory 
or bone with ebony, teak, and other precious woods. The 

"Prince on a Brown Horse," Mogul miniature painting, eighteenth 
century. Mogul emporers employed large numbers of painters 
who became known for their depictions of humans and animals in 
a naturalistic style. © The Burstein Coelection/Corbis 

most expensive pieces of woodwork were mosque furnishings 
such as nuujsiirtis (screens to enclose an area in front of the 
mihrab), minbars (pulpits), and Qur'an stands. The designs 
on these pieces were usually geometric, with elaborate inter- 
lacing and straps ork patterns. Perhaps the most stunning is 
the stupendous minbar made in 1137 at Cordoba for the 
Almoravid mosque in Marrakesh, which has thousands of 
individual panels meticulously carved in a variety of rare and 
exotic woods with arabesque designs. These panels were 
fitted flawlessly into a complex geometric scheme, so that the 
decoration can be equally appreciated from near and faraway. 

Islamic ceramics are also notable for their wonderful 
colors. Potters constantly invented new and different tech- 
niques of over- and underglaze painting. Their finest effort 
was tire development of the luster technique, in w Inch vessels 
and tiles were painted with metallic oxides and then fired in a 
reducing at n tosphere so that the oxygen burned away, leaving 
the shimmering metal on the surface. The technique may 
have been invented by glassmakers in Egypt and Syria in the 
eighth century, but soon passed to potters, who developed its 
full potential, first in ninth-century Iraq, then in Fatimid 
(969-1 171), Egypt, and finally in Iran. Luster potters work- 
ing there in the city of Kashan in the late twelfth and early 

thirteenth centuries also developed the overglaze-painted 
technique known as minai or enameling, in which several 
colors and gold are painted on top of already-glazed wares, 
which are then fired a second time at a relatively low tempera- 
ture. Luster and minai ceramics represent the most expensive 
kind of pottery made in medieval times, for they required 
costly materials, special kilns, and extra fuel for a second 
firing. The techniques may well have been kept secret, and, to 
judge from signed works and treatises, the craft tradition 
passed down through certain families. 

The decorative combination of blue and white, so often 
identified with Chinese porcelains, derived from the Islamic- 
lands where potters invented the technique of painting in 
cobalt under a transparent glaze. The technique, developed 
by the same Kashan potters working in Iran in the early 
thirteenth century, was then exported to China where it 
appears on blue and white porcelains made in the fourteenth 
century. Indeed, potters in the Islamic lands were constantly 
in competition with their colleagues in China, and ideas 
bounced back and forth from culture to culture. Thus. Kashan 
potters probably adopted an artificial or stone-paste body to 
imitate the hard body of porcelain, made by the Chinese with 
kaolin, an element not available in Iran and other Mus- 
lim lands. 

Various explanations have been proposed for this lavish 
use of color throughout much of Islamic art. Some scholars 
trace it to the drab ami dusty landscape that pervades the 
heartland of Islam. (The word khaki, for example, derives 
from the Persian word meaning dusty or dust-colored.) This 
explanation is insufficient, however, as people from other 
desert or steppe regions do not necessarily value color as 
highly as Muslims do. Other scholars see the extensive use of 
color as evoking Paradise, described in the Qur'an as a rich 
and verdant place where men recline on silken pillows. 
Muslims, particularly mystics, often elaborated the symbolic 
values of color, but these values were often contradictory and 
meaningful only in specific geographical or chronological 
contexts. Black, for example, was adopted by the Abbasids as 
their standard, and their rivals, the Fatimids, adopted white. 
The auspicious or heavenly associations may have been out- 
weighed by practical considerations, since copper oxide, a 
ubiquitous coloring agent, produces a green color in a lead 
glaze and a turquoise blue color in an alkaline one. 

Writing. Of all the themes that run through Islamic art, the 
most important is writing, Islam, perhaps more than any 
other religion, values writing, and inscriptions permeate 
Islamic art more than any other artistic tradition. The value 
of the word is due to the sanctity oi the revelation, and from 
earliest Islamic times virtually all types of Islamic art were 
decorated with writing, even when the medium makes it 
difficult to add an inscription. Sometimes writing supple- 
ments an image, but often w riling is the sole type of decoration. 

The texts inscribed on works of Islamic art range in 
subject matter. Some contain verses from the Qur'an, Tradi- 
tions of the Prophet (called hadith in Arabic), and other 

religions texts. ( khersare short pious phrases recalling Cod's 
power and omnipotence (the most common is al-mtilk lilhih. 
dominion belongs to God) or invoking the name of the 
Prophet, his family, and other significant religions figures 
such as the Four Orthodox caliphs who succeeded Muham- 
mad as leaders of the Muslim community in the early seventh 
century. Probably the most common type of text inscribed i >n 
works oflslamic art comprises benedictions and good wishes, 
which can range from a single word (the most common is 
foinikti. blessing) to long phrases with rhyming pairs of nouns 
and adjectives. 

These inscriptions, particularly on expensive pieces, some 
times contain historical information, including the name of 
the patron, the date, the place the object « as made, and even 
the name of the artist. Art historians always look for this type 
of information since it helps to localize a work of art, but it is 
important for other reasons as well. Historical information 
also implies that the work of art was a specific 
made for a particular individual at a specific 
commemorate a specific event. The historical information 
also tells ns in « hich direction to view a work of art, since this 
information is usually included at the end of the text. Signa- 
tures allow us to establish the biographies of artists, a type of 
person not genera lb, recorded in histories and chronicles, and 
thereby fill out the artistic record. 

Many different styles of script were used to decorate 
works of Islamic art. Historical information was often written 
in a more legible rounded hand, because the patron or artist 
wanted his name to be clear. In contrast, aphorisms and pious 
phrases were often written in a more stylized angular script. 
Some mighthave been intended as puzzles designed to amuse 
or even tease the user. For example, a group of slip-covered 
earthenware vessels made in northeastern Iran and Central 
Asia in the ninth and tenth centuries (when the area was 
under the domination of the Samanid dynasty) is inscribed 
with aphorisms in Arabic such as "Knowledge is bitter to the 
taste at first, but sweeter than honey in the end" or "He who is 
content with his own opinion runs into danger." These 
aphorisms are written in brown or black against the cream 
slip in an extremely complex script in which the letters are 
stretched out or distorted and the strokes braided and inter- 
twined. The texts are very difficult to read, and s< imewhat like 
a modern cryptic puzzle; decipherment was part of the 
enjoyment they engendered. 

In other cases the difficulty in deciphering the inscriptions 
on a work of Islamic art may have been due to the artist's 
illiteracy. The person who drew up the inscription was not 
necessarily the same person who executed it on the work of 
art, and some artists may not have been literate, particularly 

those of lower status who worked with cheaper materials in 
repetitive forms. A group of overglaze-painted earthenware 
vessels made in the Abbasid lands in the ninth century is often 
decorated in the center with a few lines of text containing 
blessings and the name of the potter. The texts are formulaic 
and often unreadable, words cut off, and the inscriptions 
show that the pieces were not a specific c< >m mission but made 
for sale on the open market. Nevertheless, they are eloquent 
testimony for a world in which writing and written senti- 
ments were appreciated at all levels of society. 

See also Architecture; Calligraphy; Mihrab. 


Baer, Eva. Metal-work in Medieval Islamic Art. Albany: State 
University of New York Press, 1983. 

Baer, Eva. hi a <ic nein Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univer- 
sity Press, 1998. 

bl i .in il i Insci Etli ibu • b L dinbiirgh 

University Press, 1998. 

Blair, Sheila S., and Bloom, Jonathan Al. The Art and Architec 
tnreof Islam: 1250-1800. New Haven, Conn. andLondon: 
Yale University Press, 1994. 

Bloom, Jonathan M , and Blair, Sheila S. Islamic Arts. Lon- 
don: Phaidon, 1997. 

Brend, Barbara. Islamic Art. London e\y\u Cambridge, Mass.: 
British Museum Press/Harvard University Press, 1991. 

Ettinghausen, Richard, Grabar, Oleg, and Jenkins-Madina, 
Marilyn. Islamic Art and Architecture: 650-1250. New 
Haven, Conn, and London: Yale University Press, 2001. 

Ferrier, R. W., ed. The Arts of Persia. New Haven, Conn, and 
London: Yale University Press, 1989. 

Gol< iiTibek, Lisa. "The Draped Universe of Islam." In Content 
and Context of Visual . [its in the Islamic World. Edited by 
P. P. Soucek. University Park, Pa., and London: Pennsyl- 
vania State University Press, 1988. 

Grabar, Oleg, The Formation of Islamic Art. New Haven, 
Conn.: Yale University Press, 1973. 

Grabar, Oleg. The Mediation of Ornament. Princeton, N.J.: 
Princeton University Press, 1992. 

Hattstein, Markus, and Delius, Peter, eds. Islam: Art and 
Architecture. Cologne: Ivdneiriaim, 2000. 

Hillenbrand, Robert. Islamic Art and Architecture. London: 
Thames and Hudson, 1999. 

Ii in Robi rt. 1 i'ic A I Irci. re. and 

hiterary World. New York: Abrams, 1997. 

Pope, Arthur Uphani, and Ackerman, Phyllis, eds. J Surrey of 
Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. London 
and New York: Oxford University Press, 1938-1939. 
I i I 1 1 1 n 1 ' ) / D i i 

Islamic An. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1992. 

Sheila S. Blair 

Jonathan J /. Bloom 


The English equivalent of the term 'asabiyya is akin to "social 
solidarity" or "tribal loyalty." It is an abstract noun that 
derives from the Arabic root 'asab, meaning "to bind." It 
refers to a special characteristic or set of characteristics that 
defines the rather vague essence of what constitutes a particu- 
lar group. As a sociological principle, it would be especially 
significant within the political thought of Ibn Khaldun 
(1332-1406). 'Asabiyya, according to him, is the social bond 
that is particularly evident among tribal groups and is based 
more on social psychological pin ical ind political lactoi 
than on those of genetics or consanguinity. It is not unique 
among the Arabs; rather, each group possesses its own dis- 
tinct 'asabiyya. In this way, Ibn Khaldun identified a Jewish 
'asabiyya. a Greek 'asabiyya. and so on. He also perceived an 
intimate connection between 'asabiyya and religion. For a 
religion to be effective it must evoke a feeling of solidarity 
among all the members of the group. In this way one could 
have divei , lo m 1 n ui to on tril 

one's guild, and ultimately to one's religion. Ibn Khaldun 
argues that Islam brought a strong sense of 'asabiyya to the 
Arabs and was responsible for the benefits that Islamic civili- 
zation produced. 

See also ibn Khaldun. 


Baali, Fnad iciet) i n/d Urba I Khai i < 

logical Thought. Albany: State University of New York 
Press, 1988. 

Aaron Hughes 


The Ash c arites, who were also known as al-Ash'ariyya, were 
the largest Sunni theological school, and were named after 
the school's founder, Abu '1-Hasan al-Ash'ari, who lived in 
the late ninth and early tenth centuries (873-935). Little is 
known of al-Ash'ari"s personal and scholarh life. The most 
often repeated information in the sources is that at the age 
forty, after a series of visions, he changed his position in 
islamic theology, lie ieii his Akitazilite teacher Abu Ali al- 
Jubba'i over a theological dispute on divine grace and human 
responsibility (exemplified In the famous example of three 
brothers with different eschatological fates), and accepted the 
authority of Ahmad b. llanbal. Al Ash an thus adhered to the 
principles of the traditionalist Sunni majority (Ahl al sauna 
real jama'a), although despite their opposition he defended 
the necessity of using rational argumentation, which was 
wiileh practiced in justifying these princi 
pies. Following his conversion he even wrote a short treatise 

in favor of the argumentath e method in Islamic theology. In 

combining Snnni doctrines with Mn'lazilite methodology lie 
was regarded as the founder of die first and later dominant 
theological school among Sunnis. There were some other 
independent scholars who tried partly to apply rational meth- 
odology to Sunni doctrines before Al-Ash'ari, such as Ibn 
Kullab, Harith al-Muhasibi, and Abul- c Abbas al-Qalanisi, but 
they were not recognized as the masters of a school by later 
Sunni theologians. With the exception of the followers of the 
Ilanafne theologian Abu Manstiral Alain ridi in Central Asia. 
almost all Sunni theologians were regarded as Ash'arite, 
although they departed from al-Ash'ari in some points. 

Al-Ash c ari's immediate students, Abu '1-Hasan al-Bahili, 
Ibn Mujahid al-Ta 3 i, and others, were not influential in the 
history of Ash'arism. However the following generation, 
among them Abu Bakr al-Baqillani (d. 1013), Ibn Furak (d. 
1015), Abu Ishaq al-Isfara'ini (d. 1027), and 'Abd al-Qahir al- 
Baghdadi (d. 1037), played a major role in the formation of 
the school. Al-Baqillani, for instance, was regarded as the 
second founder, due to his contributions in rationalizing the 
Ash'arite school through his doctrines of a 

Although Ash'arite scholars suffered for a while from the 

persecution of Buwayhid sultans and the Seljuk Wazir al- 
Kunduri in the eleventh century, their conditions rapidly 
changed shortly after gaining a wide support of the Seljuks 
during the time of the famous intellectual wazir Nizam al- 
Mulk. He established the Nizam i i m Ira i ( hool) in 
Nishapur, in which Ash'arite views were officially taught, and 
then spread to other parts of the Islamic world as far away as 
North Africa and Muslim Spain. At this time leading Ash'arite 
thinkers were Imam al llaramayn al Jtiwayni id. 1085) and 
his student Abu Hamid al Ghazali (d. 1111), both of whom 
taught at the Nizamiyya School. Al-Juwayni and al-Ghazali 
imported some philosophical terms and topics into Ash'arite 
knit!/// and legitimized the use of formal Aristotelian logic in 
both Islamic theological and legal theories. 

In the twelfth century, a philosophical trend dominated 
among the so-called modern or later theologians (al- 
uiiitti'iikhkhirun). This trend gained in strength with the 
works of later independent-minded thinkers of the school, 
such as Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1209), Sayf al-Din al-Amidi 
(d. 1233), and Qadi al-Baydawi (d. 1286). Ash'arite thought 
came under the influence of Avicennan Neoplatonist cosmol 
ogy and mostly absorbed the Islamic philosophical tradition 
in Sunni theology after a major but ineffective stand by the 
well-known philosopher Averroes. Thinkers of genius from 
Central Asia, especially Adutl al Din al-Iji (d. 1355) and his 
in i in il Din al ■ Taflaz mi (d. ] 9) and id rai i 

al-Jurjani (d. 1413), contributed to the interpretation and 
expansion of Ash'arite thought by producing large commen- 
taries throughout the fourteenth century. Ottoman thinkers 

of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, though officially 

Alaluridile, also contributed to this philosophical production 
by their commentaries ami marginal notes on the works of the 
above named Central Asian Ash'arites. 

The Ash'arite school continued to exist in the seventeenth 
century in the works of the Egyptian al Lakaiii and the Indian 
al Siyalkuli. After a continuous modernization process in the 
Muslim world that took place in the eighteenth and nine- 
teenth centuries, the Sunnis from both the Ash'arite and 
Maltiridile traditions, such as Muhammad Abduh of Egypt, 
Shibli Nu'mani of India, and Izmirli Ismail Hakki of Otto- 
man Turkey, attempted a methodological renovation within 
Islamic theological thought. Dining this period of moder 
nit}-, sectarian concerns and identities weakened among Mus- 
lim intellectuals, since they took an eclectic and broader 
approach in order to satisfy the demands of their age. The 
contemporary Muslim modernists followed their predeces- 
sors in detaching themselves from a strict identification witha 
particular school of thought. However, Ash'arism still con- 
tinues to maintain its existence in Sunni societies today. 

Ash'arite thinkers, following al Mu'tazila, dealt with the 
main theological issues of Islamic faith, including arguments 
for the existence of God, divine unity, revelation, prophecj , 
and eschatology. The} aimed to refute the opposing views of 
other religions and philosophical schools in a rational dialec- 
tical method. But they also discussed the controversial theo- 
logical issues first raised by the Mu'tazilites, such as the 
existence of attributes of God (sifat Allah), the nature of divine 
speech (kalam Allah), the possibility of seeing God in the 
future life (ru'yat Allah), the question of divine omnipotence 
and human freewill (irada), and the fate of a believing sinner 
(murtakil al kabira). In Ash'arite theology God has eternal 
attributes such as knowledge, speech, ami sight, which are, in 
their system, essential for His knowing, speaking, or seeing. 
Since it belongs to his eternal attribute of speech, the Qur'an 
as God's word was uncreated. Unlike the traditionalist Snnni 
school and al Ash'ari himself, later Ash'arites did not oppose 
the metaphorical interpretation of corporeal terms attributed 
to God in the Qur'an. As for the question of free will and 
predestination, Ash'arites took a middle position between the 
Mu'tazilites and Jabrites in emphasizing God's creation of 
human acts, which each person freely chooses. 

There are some differences between the Ash'arites and 
Maluridiles, the second Sunni theological school, but they 
are usually regarded as methodological and nonessential. 
Ash'arites, for instance, rejected takwin (which means "to 
bring into existence") as a divine attribute, the elernalness of 
God's actions, unlike his attributes, and the necessity of 
believing in the existence and unity of Cod through rational 
arguments in the absence of divine revelation, which are 
among the Maturidite theses. 

See also Kalam; Mu'tazilites, Mu'tazila. 


Frank, Richard M. "Bodies and Atoms: The Ash'arite Analy- 
sis." In Mamie Theology and Philosophy. Edited by Michael 
E. Marmura. Albany: State University of New York 
Press, 1984. 

Frank, RichardM. "The Science oflvalam.'S [rahic Science and 
Philosophy 2 (1992): 7-37. 

I i Richard A] < ' I boo/. Durham 

N.C.: Duke University Press, 1994. 

Gimaret, Daniel. La doctrine d'al-Ash'ari. Paris: Cerf., 1990 

Gwynne, Rosalind W. "Al-Jubba'i, al Ash'ari and the Three 
Brothers: The Uses of Fiction." The Muslim WorldlS, no. 
3-4(1985): 132-161. 

Makdisi, George, "Asli'ari and the Ash'ariles in Islamic Relig- 
ious History." Studia Islamica 17 (1962): 37-80. 

Alakdisi. George. "Ash'ari and the Ash'ariles in islamic Eelig 
ious History." Studia Islamica 18 (1963): 19-39. 

Nakamura, Kojiro. "Was ( diazali an Ash'arite." InMemoirsof 
the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko. Tokyo: The 
Oriental Library, 1993. 

Watt, W. Montgomery . The Formative Period of 'Islamic Thought. 
Oxford, U.K.: Oneworld Press, 1998. 

Watt, W. Montgomery, il Vsli riwa In Wl i E/ieye/op 
dia of Islam. 2d ed. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1999. 

M. Salt Ozervarli 

(R. 1493-1529) 

The ruler of the Songhai Empire between 1493 and 1529, 
Muhammad b. Abi Bakr Ture is also know n as Askiya al-Hajj 
Muhammad, or Askh a Muhammad. His origins are debated. 
According to the two Tawarikh, or "histories" (Tarikh al 
Sudan and Tarikh al-Fattash), lie belonged either to the Ture 
or the Sylla clan of the Soninke. Because they were associated 
with trade, the Soninke were one of the earliest groups to 
convert to Islam south of the Sahara. Askiya al 1 la j j Muham 
mad overthrew the dynasty of the Sunni in 1493, and estab- 
lished the dynasty known as the Askiya w ho ruled the Songhai 
Empire from 1493 until die Moi ocean invasion of the Songhai 
in 1591. Unlike his predecessor, Sunni Ali, Askiya Muham- 
mad was said to be a pious Muslim, and very supportive of 
Muslim scholars in Timbuctu, and other parts of Songhai. In 
1496, Askiya Muhammad set off for the pilgrimage to Mecca. 
On his way to Mecca, he visited Egypt, and was appointed by 
the Abbassid caliph al Mutwakkil as his deputy to rule Songhai 
in his name. Askiya al llajj Muhammad consulted two major 
Muslim scholars on how to rule Songhai according to the 
shari'a. One of them was 'Abd al-Karim al-Maghili (d. 1503 
or 1504), and the other was Jalal al-din al-Suyuti (d. 1505). 
Askiya Muhammad extended the Songhai Empire to include 
tributary lands to the east, west, and north. No further 

expansion of the Songhai Empire occurred after his reign. He 
was deposed in 1528 by his son Musa. 

See also Africa, Islam in; African Culture and Islam. 


Hiskett, M. The Di elopm > 1 ' Ifrica London 

and New York: Longman, 1984. 

Hunwick, John, ed. Shari'a in Songhai: The Replies of Al- 
Maghili to the Questions of. Iskia al llajj Muhammad. Oxford, 
U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1985. 

Ousmane Kane 


Asnam is the Arabic word for "idols" (sing., sanam). The 
origin of the term is found in the Semitic root S.L.M. (by a 
shift of / into n), which denotes "image." Hence, the Arabic 
sanam is basically the corporeal image of the deity. 

The term asnam occurs in the Qur'an, and in all ir 
but one it refers to the idols worshiped by Abraham's pagan 
adversaries (6:74; 21:57; 26:71). Twice the idols worshiped by 
the latter are called a-wthan (sing., wathan; see 29:17, 25). 
Abraham's contemporaries worship the asnam/aivthan "apart 
from" (mm diiiii) God, which means that belief in these idols 
represents what the Qur'an labels elsewhere as shirk ("asso- 
ciation"), that is, worshiping deities that are considered God's 
associates. Three of God's "associates" are mentioned by 
name in another Qur'anic passage (53:19-23): Allat, Manat, 
and al-'Uzza. The Qur'an sets out to deny that they were 
God's dai.iglu.ers. a typical element of shirk, and denounces 
them as sheer names. \\\ yel another Our 'anic passage (71:23), 
five "gods" (aj/l'ii) worshiped by Noah's contemporaries are 
mentioned by name. 

In extra-Qur'anic sources, the dichotomy between the 

worship of the asnam and the monotheistic legacy of Ibrahim, 
the founder of the Ka'ba in Mecca, is retained. The traditions 
say that when Mecca became too small for the descendants of 
Abraham and Ishmael, they looked for dwellings outside 
Mecca, taking with them stones from the homeland, which 
they cherished and turned into idols. Nevertheless, according 
to these sources even far away from Mecca they preserved 
many of Abraham's values, such as the rites of the pilgrimage 
to Mecca, but they contaminated them with various elements 
o[ shirk. The shrines of some of these idols are said to have 
been built on the model of the Ka'ba, and sometimes were 
even called "Ka'ba." 

Conversely, idolatry is said to have been imported into 
Arabia from outside by one Amr b. Luhayy of the tribe of 
Khuza'a, who ruled in Mecca before the advent of Quraysh. 
He is said to have imported idols mainly from Syria. Among 

them the five idols of Noah's time are mentioned. The 
establishment of the worship of Hubal at the Ka'ba is also 

aUrihiHed to this 'Amr. Names of numerous additional asnaiii 
are mentioned in the sources with details about the tribes who 
worshiped them. 

Of the three "daughters" of God, Manat is said to have 
been the first to be introduced in Arabia, then Allat, then al- 
c Uzza. Manat's shrine was in Qudayd (near Mecca, on the 
Red Sea shore), Mat's in al-Ta'if, and al-'Uzza's in Nakhla. 
Pilgrims brought votive gifts to the shrines and sacrificial 
slaughter took place on special stones (iiusub) there. 

Apart from the collective idols, some traditions speak 
about domestic asnam whose carved wooden images were 
held in each family household (dar) in Mecca. There are also 

reports about similar' tribal and domestic idols in pre Islamic 
Medina. The shrines of the main idols as well as the domestic 
images were reportedly destroyed in Muhammad's days, 

following the spread of Islam in Arabia. 

Modern scholars have doubted the historicity of the no- 
tion of Arabian idolatry being a deformed version of an initial 
Ibrahimic monotheism centered on the Ka'ba, and have 
rejected it as reflecting Qur'anic and Islamic concepts pro- 
jected back into remote pre-Islamic phases of history. On the 
other hand, other Islamicists noted the possibility that Ibrahim's 
image as a monotheistic prototype could have been known 
already in pre Islamic Arabia. 

See also Allah; Shirk. 


J law ting. (.. R. The Idea of 'Idolatry and the Emergence oj Islam: 

From Polemic to History. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge 

University Press, 1999. 
Lecker, Michael. "Idol Worship in Pre-Islamic Medina 

(Yathrib)." Le Museon 106 (1993): 331-346. 
Rubin, Uri. "The Ka'ba — Aspects of Its Ritual Functions." 

Jerusalem Studies in - Irabic and Islam 8: 97 131. 

Uri Rubin 


Assassins was a name originally applied by the Crusaders and 
other medieval Europeans, starting in the twelfth century, to 
the Nizari Isma'ilis of Syria. Under the initial leadership of 
Hasan Sabbah (d. 1124), the Nizaris founded a state centered 

at the stronghold ol Alamut, in northern Iran, with a subsidi- 
ary in Syria. The Nizari state in Iran was destroyed by the 
Mongols in 1256. In Syria the Nizaris reached the peak of 
their power and glory under Rashid al-Din Sinan (d. 1193), 

the original "Old Man ol the Mountain"' of the Crusaders, 
who had extended dealings with lite Crusaders and their 

Frankish ruling circles in the Near East. The Syrian Nizaris 
permanently lost their political prominence when they were 
subdued by the Mamluks in the early 1270s. 

The Nizaris and the Crusaders had numerous military 
encounters in Syria from the opening decade of the twelfth 
century. But it was in Sinan's time (1163-1193) that the 
Crusaders and their occidental observers became particularly 
impressed by the highly exaggerated reports and widespread 
rumours about the Nizari assassinations and the daring be- 
havior of their fida'is, or devotees, who carried out suicide 
mi : ions ig tin: I their community's enemies in public places. 
The Nizari Isma'ilis became infamous in Europe as "the 
Assassins." This term, which appears in medieval European 
literature in a variety of forms (Assassini, Assissini, and 
Heyssisini), was evidently based on variants of the .Via bit 
word hashnhi (plural /) which was 

applied pejoratively to the Nizaris of Syria and Iran by other 
Muslims. The term was used in the sense of "low-class 
rabble" or "people of lax morality" without claiming any 
special connection between the Nizaris and hashish, a prod- 
uct of hemp. This term of abuse was picked up locally in Syria 
by the Crusaders as well as by other European travelers and 
was adopted to designate the Nizari Isma'ilis. 

Medieval Europeans, and especially the Crusaders, who 
remained generalh ignorant of Islam and its divisions, were 
also responsible for fabricating and disseminating, in the 
Latin Orient as well as in Europe, a number of intercon- 
nected legends about the secret practices of the Nizaris, 
including the "hashish legend." It held that as part of their 
training this intoxicating drug was systematically adminis- 
tered to the fida'is by their beguiling chief, the "Old Man of 
the Mountain." The so-called Assassin legends revolved 
around the recruitment and training of the Nizari fida'is, 
who had attracted the Europeans' attention. These legends 
developed in stages and culminated in a synthesized version 
popularized by Marco Polo, who applied the legends to the 
Iranian Nizaris and created the "secret garden of paradise," 
where the fidit 7's supposedly received pan. of their indoctrina 
tion. Henceforth, the Nizari Isma'ilis were portrayed in 
European sources as a sinister order of drugged assassins bent 
on senseless murder and mischief. 

Subsequently, Westerners retained the name Assassin in 
general reference to the Nizari Isma'ilis, even though the 
term had now become in European languages a new common 
noun meaning a professional murderer, although its etymol- 
ogy had been forgotten. Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838) finally 
succeeded in solving the mystery of the name Assassin and its 
etymology, but he and other orientalists subscribed variously 
to the Assassin legends. Modern scholarship in Isma'ili stud 
ies, based on genuine Isma'ili sources, has now deconstructed 
the Assassin legends revealing their fanciful nature and also 
showing that the name Assassin is a misnomer rooted in a 
doubly pejorative appellation without basis in any communal 

or organized use of hashish by the Nizari Isma'ilis or their 
fida'is, Shi'ite Muslims who were deeply devoted to their 

See also Crusades; Shi'a: Isma'ili. 


Daflary, harhad. The . Issassin Legends: Myths of the hum His. 

London: I. B. Tauris and Co., 1994. 
Lew is, Bernard. The. tssassins: A Radical Sect in Islam. London: 

Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1967. 

Farhad Daftary 


Despite consisten t critiques of ast rol< >gy by Muslim s< 
and religious scholars, astrological prognostications required 
a fair amount of exact scientific knowledge, and thus gave 
partial incentive for the study ami development of astronomy. 
In the early Arabic sources, the term ///// al mi jam was used to 
refer to both astronomy and astrology. Soon after, however, 
astronomy was unambiguously differentiated from astrology, 
and a clear terminological and conceptual distinction was 
made between the two sciences. The titles 'Urn al falak (the 
science of the celestial orb) and Urn al-hafa (the science of the 
configuration of heavens) were used to refer to the exact 
science of astronomy, while 'ilm ahkam al ' najani (judicial 
astrology), or simply Him al nujum (the science of the stars), 
referred exclusively to astrology. Both fields were rooted in 
the Greek, Persian, and Indian traditions, and were cultivated 
for many centuries in Muslim societies. In all of these earlier 
traditions, interest in the science of astronomy has been 
closely connected to astrology. 

n between astronomy and astrology in the 
inherited scientific legacies was founded on the idea of a 
correlation between stellar configurations and events in the 
sub-lunar world. Thus, for example, the same cosmology 
underlying Ptolemy's . iliiiagest the most influential Greek 
astronomical work — provided the theoretical foundations of 
11/ 1 mil no il rological rk 1 the m 

author. In Muslim societies, astrology continued to be prac- 
ticed and to draw on and encourage astronomical knowledge, 
and a good portion of the funding for astronomical research 
was motivated In the desire to make astrological predictions. 
A number of observatories were funded and founded for the 
professed objective of conducting observations that could be 
used in astrological computation. Astrology was also com- 
monly practiced in courts. In particular, one such form of 
court astrology was iktiyarat — a branch of astrology that 
aimed at determining the optimal astrological conditions for 
initialing large undertakings, such as the building of cities or 

the launching of military campaigns. Another popular form 
of astrological prediction was maivalid (nativities), which 
involves charting the horoscopes of the beginnings of both 
personal and collective occurrences, including the birth of 
individuals, as well as the birth of prophets, historical leaders, 
religions, and nations. The classic work of Arabic astrology is 
Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi's (d. 886) Kitab al-madkhal al-kabir 
(The great introduction). 

Yet, although astrology continued to have appeal within 
the elite political culture and in popular practice, the larger, 
socially based religious culture vehemently opposed it. More- 
over, while many astronomers served as court astrologers. 
many more condemned astrology and distanced themselves 
from it. Most of these astronomers did not treat astrology as a 
valid scientific discipline, and went out of their way to 
distance their exact science from it. Despite its continued 
practice, a clear line was drawn between astrology and astron- 
omy. Thus, of the hundreds of Arabic works dealing v, ith the 
sciences of the stars, the vast majority are on astronomy, 
while onh a small portion of this legacy relates to astrological 

See also Astronomy; Science, Islam and. 


Kennedy, E. S., and Pingree, David 1 1\ Istrol ical lliston 

of Mashtfallah. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University 

Press, 1971. 
Pingree, David. The Thousands •;_.'-< \la'sha London: The 

Warburg Institute, 1968. 
Saliba, George. "Astronomy, Astrology. Islamic." In Vol. 1, 

Dictionary of the J fiddle . Iges. Edited by J. R. Strayer. New 

York: Scribners, 1978. 

Ahmad S. Dallal 


Before Islam, Arab know ledge of the stars w as limited to the 
division of the year into precise periods on the basis of star 
risings and settings. This area of astronomical knowledge was 
known as arnva', and it was largely overshadowed by the 
traditions of Arabic mathematical astronomy that emerged in 
the Islamic period. From its beginnings in the ninth and 
through the sixteenth centuries, astronomical activity in the 
Muslim world was widespread and intensive. The first astro- 
nomical texts that were translated into Arabic in the eighth 
century were of Indian and Persian origin. The earliest extant 
Arabic astronomical texts date to the second half of the eighth 
century and were influenced by the Indian and Persian 
traditions. However, the greatest formative influence on 
Arabic astronomy is undoubtedly Greek, on account of the 
use in Greek astronomy of effective geometrical represenla 
tions. The Almagest of Ptolemy (second century c.e.), in 

particular, exerted a disproportionate influence on all of 
medie* al astronomy through the whole of the Arabic period 
and until the eventual demise of the geocentric astronomical 
system. How ever, at the same time die first Arabic translation 
of this text were prepared, original work of Arabic astronomy 
was also produced. Thus, original astronomical research went 
hand in hand w ith translation jnd, from its very beginnings in 
the ninth century, Arabic astronomy attempted to revise, 
refine, and complement Ptolemaic astronomy, rather than 
simply reproduce it. 

In its earlier stages, Arabic astronomy reworked and 
critically examined the observations and the computational 
methods of Greek astronomy and, in a limited way, was able 
to explore problems outside its sel frame. Arabic astronomy 
witnessed further developments in the tenth and eleventh 
centuries as a result of systematic astronomical research as 
well as developments in other branches of the mathematical 
sciences. In this period, steps were also taken toward the 
establishment of large scale observatories. Subsequently, sev 
eral programs of astronomical observations involved the 
establishment of observatories in institutional setups where 
collective programs oi astronomical research were executed. 
Advances in trigonometry resulting from the full integrati< >n 
of the Indian achievements in the field, as well as from new 
discoveries in the tenth and eleventh centuries, played a 
central role in the further development of Arabic astroni imy. 
As a great synthesis of the Greek, Indian, and Arabic astro 
nomi il tradition h Q I M of ill din n > 

astronomer al-Biruni (973-c. 1048) represents the culmina- 
tion of this first stage in the development of Arabic astronomy. 

Following its systematic mathematization, the rethinking 
of the theoretical framework of astronomy was further devel 
oped .liter the eleventh century, leading to a thorough evaltia 
tion of its physical and philosophical underpinnings. One of 
the main objectives of this reform tradition was to come up 
with models in which the motions of the planets could be 
generated as a result of combinations of uniform circular 
motions, while at the same time conforming to the accurate 
Ptolemaic observations. The Ptolemaic models were consid- 
ered defective because they posited physically impossible 
models m w hich spheres rotate uniformly around axes thai do 
not pass through their centers. The reform tradition contin- 
ued well into the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and the list 
of astronomers working within it comprises some of the 
greatest and most original Muslim scientists. The work 
produced within this tradition had a formative influence on 
the work of Copernicus. 

In addition to theoretical itrononrj practical astronomi- 
cal problems occupied a great many astronomers who were 
responsible lor significant advances in the field. Some of 
these problems had a specific Islamic character, whereas 
others iiad to do with the genera! practical needs of society. 
The general kind includes such problems as finding the 

2- -".-■. -"ii=- -'-.'J-- •-'■_■.-- _ ■- 

,m -*m 

The Great Bear, from a seventeenth-century Persian manuscript 
of the constellations, after the tenth-century Book of Stars by al- 
Husayn. Art Archive/National Library of Cairo/Dacli Orti 

direction of one locality with respect to another, a problem 
that requires determining the longitudes and latitudes of 
these localities as well as other aspects of mathematical 
geographj . The "islamic"' problems, on the other hand, were 
problems related to Islamic worship such as determining lire 
times of prayer, the time oi sunrise and sunset in relation to 
lasting, the direction of the tfibla (the direct ion of the Kadia in 
Mecca, which Muslims have to face during prayer), crescent 
visibility in connection with the determination of the begin- 
ning of the lunar month, and calendar computations. The 
methods employed to solve these problems varied from 
simple approximative techniques to complex mathemati 
cal ones. 

Problems like the determination of the direction of the 
qibla and the times of prayer also gai e a great impetus to the 
science and art of instrument building. Astrolabes, quadrants, 
compass boxes, and cartographic grids of van nig degrees of 
sophistication were designed and introduced to solve some of 
these problems. Many of these same instruments were also 
used for other astronomical observations and computations; 
the most important of these is the astrolabe, which was a 
versatile medieval observational instrument and calculator. 
Extensive tables were also compiled in connection with time 
keeping, finding the direction of the qibla, and other astro- 
nomical functions. 

See also Astrology; Biruni 
Islam and; Translation. 


al-; Hijri Calendar; Science, 

King, David. Astronomy in the Service of Islam,. Aldershot, 

Hampshire, U.K.: Variorum, 1993. 
Rashed, Roshdi, ed., in collaboration with Morelon, Regis. 

Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Vol. 1: 

Astronomy — Theoretical and Applied. London and New York: 

Routledge, 1996. 
Saliba, George.. I History of Arabic Astronomy: Planetary Theo 

ries During the Golden < Ige of Islam. New York: New York 

University Press, 1994. 
Samso, Julio. Islamic Astronomy and Medic, 1 !;! Spain. Aldershot, 

Hampshire, U.K.: Variorum Reprints, 1994. 

Ahmad S.Dallal 


Atabat, or exalted thresholds, are the Shi'ite shrine cities 
located in modern Iraq. The 'atabat contain the tombs of six 
of the Shi'ite imams as well as other pilgrimage sites. The 
'atabat am located in Najaf, Karbala, Kazamayn, and Samarra. 
Najaf is the burial place of 'Ali b. Abi Talib, cousin and son- 
in-law of the prophet Muhammad, and first in the line of 
Shi'ite imams, who died in 661 c.e. Karbala is where Husayn, 
'Ali's son and the third imam, v> as maris, red in a battle against 
the Umayyads (r. 661-750 c.e.) in 680 c.e. It is a cornerstone 
of Shi'ite belief that Husayn, courageous and principled, 
went to battle against all odds, and his demise prefigures and 
embodies the late of all those who take an active stand against 
oppression and injustice. The site of Husayn's martyrdom 
had emerged as a Muslim holy site by the middle of the 
seventh century. Kazamayn entered the sacred landscape of 
Shi'ism in the ninth century, as the burial site of the seventh 
and ninth imams, Musa al Kazim (d. 802 c.i .) and Moham- 
mad al-Taqi (d. 834 c.e.). Kazamayn is also the burial site of 
many a medieval Shi'ite luminary. Samarra, which lies at a 
distance horn the rest of the atabat, contains the tombs of the 
tenth and eleventh imams, Ali al-Naqi (d. 868 c.e.) and Hasan 
al 'Askari (d. 873 c.e.). The twelfth imam entered occultation 
in Samarra in 941 c.e. 

The 'atabat are also significant as centers of Shi'ite learn- 
ing. Najaf has housed, since die time of the Shaykh al-Ta'ifa 
Abu [afar Muhammad Tusi in the eleventh century, several 
educational institutions whose scholarly and financial net- 
works have played an important role in determining intellec- 
tual and political trends in modern Shi'ism. 

Under Ottoman and later under Iraqi control, the 'atabat 
have served in recent history as havens against govei 

persecution for those Iranian Shi'ite scholars of the Oajar and 
the early Pahlevi periods who have spoken out against the 
ruling establishment at home. Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader 
of the V)'/') Islamic revolution in Iran, was exiled to the 'atabat 
(Najaf) by Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi in 1963. In turn, 
after the success of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, those 
clerics opposed to the religious and political stance of the 
riding hierarchy ol the Islamic Republic- have used the 'atabat 
as relatively secure bases from which to continue their doctri- 
nal warfare ag in i l the- rel >i >ti i tablishment in Iran. How- 
ever, it must also be borne in mind that since the 1980s, the 
in itei minimi \ ind i lit ion It idei n idem in tltt , , hi 
were themselves targeted by the Ba'thist government of 
former President Saddam Husayn in Iraq. Minority leaders. 
the til ma of the tal , especialh ofi ijaf and Karl) ! have 
been subjected to numerous incarcerations and assassina- 
tions, intensified in the wake of the first Gulf War (1991). 

Another important feature in the social fabric of the 
'atabat. directly related to their cenlralin in settling doctrinal 
orthodox) and implementing political agendas, is the vast 
network of patronage and the nature of finances in the shrine 
cities. These networks are comprised mainly of donations and 
religious dues provided by the Shi'ite communities world- 
wide, with significant portions from the merchant classes of 
northern India, to the maraii al taqlid who reside there. 

See also Holy Cities; Mashhad. 


Cole, Juan R. I. "Indian Money and the Shii Shrine Cities of 
Iraq, 1186-1950." Middk Eastern Studies 22 (1986): 461-480. 

Liil hii ' ' i i h Centnn l The 

'Ulama' of Najaf and Karbala, Cambridge, U.K.: Cam 
bridge University Press, 1986. 

Neguin Yavari 


Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) was born in 1881 into a family of 
modest means in Salonica, then an Ottoman port city in what 
is today a city in Greece. He died in Istanbul on 10 November 
1938. His father, 'Ali Riza Bey, was a progressive person and 
worked at the customs house. His mother, Zubeyde Hanim, 
was a devout Muslim who instilled Islamic values in young 
Mustafa. Only seven years old at the death of his father, he 
was raised by his mother and completed his early education at 
local schools. In 1893 he began his studies at a military 
secondary school where his teacher gave him his second 
name, Kemal (perfection), owing to Mustafa's outstanding 
performance in mathematics. Two years later he attended the 

military academy in Manastir and later entered the War 
Academy. He graduated in 1905 with the rank of staff captain, 
and in 1906 was assigned to the Fifth Army in Damascus. In 
1907 his duties look him u> Macedonia where he established 
connections with the Young Turks. He participated in the 
defense of Tripolitania at Tobruk and Derna against the 
Italian invasion (1911-1912), was appointed as a military 
attache to Sophia, and returned to Istanbul to distinguish 
himself at the Dardanelles in 1915. During World War I, he 
served on various fronts such as the Caucasus, Palestine, 
and Aleppo. 

Rejecting the Mudros Armistice (30 October 1918), which 
the Allied powers had imposed on the Ottomans, Mustafa 
Kemal moved on to Anatolia in May 1919 to begin his 
n mi h i in I in i h i i ii ii ml irtition of the 

country. That same year, at the congresses of Erzurum (23 
July) and Sivas (4 September), he defined the nationalist 
demands and goals for independence. It was during this 
period that he molded various regional paramilitary defense 
associations into a nationalist army. On 23 April 1920, he 
established the (.real National Assembly in Ankara, claiming 
exclusive legitimacy in representing the Turkish interests. lie 
was unanimously elected the first president of the assembly. 
During the War of Independence, Mustafa Kemal served as 
the commander in chief of the armed forces. 

The Armistice of Mudanya (11 October 1922) sealed the 
victory of the Turkish fortes. Within days, the assembly 
abolished the sultanate (1 November 1922), though leaving 
the caliphate in the ( )ttoman House. The Lausanne Confer- 
ence (November 1922-July 1923) recognized Turkey's full 
independence and defined its borders. On 23 October 1923, 
the Second Grand National Assembly, controlled by Ilalk 
Firkasi (People's Party, later Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi — 
Republican People's Party) proclaimed the republic and 
elected Mustafa Kemal its first president. Thus a six hundred- 
year-old political tradition was brushed aside, and sover- 
eignly placed directly in the hands of the people. 

The early years of the republic witnessed fundamental 
political and social changes. Determined to modernize and 
secularize his country, and intent upon breaking away from 
the past, the assembly, under Mustafa Kemal's guidance, 
passed a number of laws thai brought revolutionary changes. 
In 1924, the same year that the caliphate was abolished, the 
Ministry of Serial (Islamic law) was dismantled ;\])(\ replaced 
by the Ministry of Justice. In 1925, the Gregorian Calendar 
replaced the Islamic one, and the fez, which had come to 
symbolize Islamic headgear. « as banned. The wearing of the 
veil by women was strong!) discouraged. The dervish (Sufi) 
orders were dissolved. The adoption of Swiss Civil Code in 
1926 completely negated the Islamic laws of marriage, di 
vorce, and inheritance that had been in practice for centuries. 
The replacement of the Arabic script with the Latin script in 
1928 closed the door to the ( )ttoman past, and compelled the 

Mustafa Kemal, known as Ataturk (1880-1930), was elected as 
Turkey's first president. He transformed Turkey from a traditional 
society into a modern one by secularizing previously Islamic 
; and laws. © Hutton-Deutsch Couection/Corbis 

Turks to look to the future. The passage, in 1934, of a law 
requiring Turks to use family names further underscored this 
trend; indeed, Mustafa Kemal's own surname of Ataturk 
(Father of Turks) was bestowed upon him by the National 
Assembly. In the same year, women were given the right to 
vote, in foreign policy, Turkey followed Mustafa Kemal's 
dictum: "Peace at Home, Peace in the World." 

Mustafa Kemal's reforms were revolutionary. The poli- 
cies of his Republican People's Party were expressed in six 
principles: republicanism, nationalism, populism, etatism, 

secularism, and revolutionism. Within these principles Tur- 
key was transformed from a traditional society into a modern 
nation stale. Secularism received particular attention. The 
Kemalist regime relentless!} pursued secularist policies and 
dismantled the Islamic institutions. In view of the founder of 
the new Turkish Republic, centuries old Islamic institutions 
and laws could not sufficiently serve the needs of a modern 
society. Mustafa Kemal believed that Islam would be best 
served if it were confined to belie! and worship rather than 
brought into the affairs of the state. In his address to the 
nation on the tenth anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 
1933, he promised further progress and asked Turks to 
"judge time not according to the lax mentality ol past cerilu 
ries, but in terms of the concepts of speed and n 
our century." 

See also Nationalism: Turkish; Revolution: Modern; 
Secularism, Islamic; Young Turks. 


Mango, Andrew. Ataturk. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook, 2000. 
Walker, Barbara, et al. To Set Them Free: The Early J 'ears of 

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Grantham, N.H.: Tompson and 

Rutter, 1981. 

A. Uner Turgay 


The Awami (People's) League was founded In llusain Shaheed 
Suhrawardy in June 1949 in the East Bengal (renamed East 
Pakistan in 1955) province of Pakistan. H. S. Suhrawardy 
gathered senior members of the Muslim League whose power 
had diminished in their own party and young, ambitious 
politicians who were opposed to communalism in Pakistan. 
Both groups, however, were united in the belief that the 
Muslim League, which spearheaded Pakistan's independence 
movement, no longer represented the needs of the majority 
of the populace. 

In 1 949, though barely two years old, Pakistan was already 
plagued by economic, political, and social disparities between 
its two major regional wings. This strife was further com- 
plicated by the geographical complexity consisting of the 
four provinces in the west (Northwest Frontier Province. 
Baluchistan, Punjab, and Sindh) with East Bengal in the 
which was separated by approximately one thousand miles of 
India. Some of the first signs of hostilities between East and 
West Pakistan arose as early as 1948 when Muhammad An 
Jinnah, the central architect of the creation of Pakistan. 
visited the eastern pro\ ince and proceeded to criticize Ben 
for not learning Urdu, the lingua franca of West Paki; 
Tensions in the regions continued to escalate and in 1952 
student efforts to make Bengali a recognized national lan- 
guage led to violent clashes with the police resulting in the 
deaths of four Dhaka University students. This tragic event 
further intensified the cultural divide that haunted this 
young nation. 

The people of West Pakistan generally associated the 
Bengali language with a Hindu India and, therefore, believed 
that Bengalis should be obligated to learn Urdu, a language 
clearly associated with Islam. Furthermore, West Pakistani 
officials deemed Bengali to be closely aligned with pro-Indian 
sentiment, which was highly unpopular in Wesl Pakistan, 
This fear and suspicion of Bengali Muslims contributed to 
West Pakistan's refusal to cede many of the demands of 
Bengali Muslims, The}- therefore resisted efforts to recognize 
Bengali as a national language until 1954. 

The desperate economic situation plaguing East Pakistan 
fostered the belief among its inhabitants that their province 
i\ as being treated as a colony instead of as an equal partner in 
the burgeoning nation. Although East Pakistan experienced 
significant economic growth, the province reaped little of the 
pecuniary benefits with most of the national expenditures 
directed toward West Pakistan. Furthermore, few Bengalis 
held important positions in the administration with even 
fewer represented in the military. These escalating tensions 
precipitated the unprecedented move of a splinter group, 
consisting of East Pakistani politicians, to create a new 
political party to achieve the common goals of the Bengali 

In 1949 Husain Shaheed Suhrawardy, Ataur Rahman, 
I ul in ' I i hamsul Ilnq i \ ! li lujibur Ral n in 

co-founded the Awami Muslim league. It was the first party 
truly to provide alternate representation for the people of 
Last Pakistan. In the late 1950s it changed its name to the 
Awami League, welcoming non-Muslims into its fold, thus 
marking a significant shift toward, secularism. By 1956 the 
Awami League was the most popular party in East Pakistan 
and became the Muslim League's main contender for power. 

From 1958 to 1971 Pakistan was reduced to an adminis- 
trative state with four years of martial law and a diminished 
role for its fledgling political parties. In February of 1966 

Shaykh Mujibur Rahman, the dominant figure in the Awami 
League, presented the "Six Point Demand" to the other 

political parties desiring to work collectively to oust the West 
Pakistani government of Muhammad Ayub Khan. The de 
mands called for separate but equal federation of powers 
between Last and West Pakistan, governed by a parliament 
elected on the basis of one person/one vote throughout both 
parts of Pakistan. Gaining the support ok the Awami League 
was equivalent to gaining the support of East Pakistan, but 
Mujib was only willing to put the Awami League's support 
behind the coalition if the coalition from West Pakistan was 
willing to support his "Six Point Demand" (see Mujibur, 
Appendix 2, pp. 127-128). 

For the Bengalis the "Six Point Demand" clearly and 
concisely reflected goals that would balance powers between 
the two regions and place Bengalis on an equal fooling with 
their brethren in the western province. Consequently, this 
"Six Point Demand" consolidated Bengali support for the 
Awami League. However, it was simultaneously viewed in 
those in West Pakistan as a document that would work 
united Pakistan. 

In Pakistan's first general election in December 1970 the 
Awami League won 167 of the 169 National Assembly seats 
allotted to East Pakistan. This landslide victory was due in 
part to other parties boycotting the elections. In West Paki- 
stan, Zulfiqar Ali Khan Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party won 
83 of the 131 seats allotted to that province. With this Awami 
League victory, the National Assembly should have been able 

In Dhaka, Bangladesh, activists for the Awami League, one of the 
country's two dominant political parties, shout anti-government 
slogans, protesting the removal of portraits of Shaykh Mujibar 
Rahman, Bangladesh's independence hero and a founder of the 
Awami League. In addition to the Awami's rival party, the BNP, 
there are more than twenty smaller political parties in Bangladesh. 
AP/Wide World Photos 

to push through the "Six Point Demand" swiftly. Instead, 
General Yahya Khan (who served as martial lau administra 
tor from 2 5 March 1969 until 20 December 1971) postponed 
the convening of the National Assembly. This led to an 
outbreak of violence, the arrest of Shaykh Mujib on charges 
of treason, and the eventual war for independence resulting in 
Bangladesh's declaration of independence on 16 Decem- 
ber 1971. 

Shaykh Mujib, also known as Bangabandhu ("Friend of 
Bengal"), ruled Bangladesh as its first prime minister until his 
assassination on 15 August 1975. He is remembered as a great 
charismatic leader successful in creating the ideological base 
that united and defined a nation. The constitution of 
Bangladesh was framed upon. Shaykh Mujib's lour principles 
of democracy, socialism, secularism, and nationalism. Yet 
after independence he was unable to move the country 

forward economically or democratically. Less than a year 
after independence, Shaykh Mujib was accused of being 
ineffectual — a criticism which further contributed to his 
decision to limit the Bangladeshi multiparty system. Further 
leading to Mujib's downfall was the famine of 1974. In 
January 1975 the constitution was amended to make Mujib 
president for five years, giving him full executive authority. A 
few months later he created the Bangladesh Krishak Sraniik 
Awami League (BAKSAL, Bangladesh Farmers, Workers, 
and People's League) while simultaneously outlawing all 
other political parties. He then created a paramilitary force 
called the Rakhi Bahini, which was known for its intimidation 

Under Mujib's rule, the Awami League faltered in meet- 
ing its goals and consequently lost its popularity with the 
people. However, after Mujib's death, Bangladesh experi- 
enced a number of military coups and counter-coups, result- 
ing in a resurgence of the Awami League's popularity in the 
1980s. Consequently, in June 1996 the League won an overall 
majoritj in the Parliament with Shaykh Hasina Wajid, daughter 
of Shaykh Mujib, sworn in as prime minister. During her 
tenure in office, Wajid had sought to prosecute her father's 
killers and attempted to put forward a pro-democracy plat- 
form and pro-socialist economy that encouraged a private 
sector. Consequently, the League's rivals often accused it of 
being too pro-India and secular. 

In 1977 Ziaur Rahman, < me of Bangladesh's most-decorated 
major generals during the war for independence, became 
Chief Martial Law Administrator and president of Bangladesh 
from 1977 until his assassination in May 1981. He was also 
the founder of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP). In his 
first year in office Ziaur Rahman amended the constitution, 
created by the Awami League government in 1972, to make 
Islam, and not secularism, one of its guiding principles, a 
move that ushered in an era of warmer relations between 
Bangladesh and Pakistan. Today, there are currendy more 
than twenty political parlies in Bangladesh with varying 
pi ii nin emph iz i mi i in m nl 1 1 ni nd Islarni 
interests. However, the Awami League, and its main rival, the 
BNP, continue to dominate national politics. The BNP, led 
by Khaleda Zia. widow of Ziaur Rahman, runs on a platform 
that favors democracy and is more oriented toward Islam. As 
this young nation strives to develop its political system, the 
question of whether the state should be secular or Islamic 
:s to dictate politic 

See also Pakistan, Islamic Republic of; South Asia, 
Islam in. 


li iin d Em in i [in B hi 1 'h il enti i 

Social Studies, 1980. 
Baxter, Craig. Bangladesh. Boulder, Colo.: Westview 
Press, 1980. 

i Old Setting. 

Baxter, Craig. Bangladesh: A New Nation i, 

Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1984. 
Khan, Mohmmad Mohabbat, and Thorp, John P., eds. 

Bangladesh: Society, Politics & Bureaucracy. Dacca, 

Bangladesh: Center for Administrative Studies, 1984. 
Manirtizzaman, Talukdar. "Bangladesh Politics: Secular anil 

Islamic Trends." In Islam i i Society Culture 

and Politics. Edited In Eaiitiddin Ahmed. Dacca: Bangladesh 

Itihas Samiti, 1983. 
Lasi ri nil i ' in horn Bangladesh I L , , f Blooa Lou 

don: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986. 
Mtijibtir Rahman, Sheikh. Bangladesh, My Bangladesh: Selected 

Speeches and Statements. Edited In Ramendu Majumdar. 

New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1972. 
Sisson, Richard, and Rose. LeoE. II arand Secession: Pakistan. 

India and the Ln , i ladesh Berkeley: University 

of California Press, 1990. 
Ziring, Lawrence. Bangladesh: From Mujib to Ershad. An 

Interpretive Stud\ t t'ork: O lord I nivei in 1 rt I >' 2 


lire term ayatollah (Ar. ayatullah), literalh "Sign of God," 
refers to high ranking scholars within the Twelver Shi'ite 
tradition. The term emerged in the earh motlern period (late 
19th century) to describe the elite of the Shi'ite scholarly 
community. In modern works, many early Shi'ite scholars 
wen i In in i ill ii lit n H i II I i • 1 1 ills 

are nearly always experts in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), and 
are normally required to have written extensively in this area. 
The requirements for qualification as an ayatollah are not 
entirely clear in traditional descriptions of the Shi'ite hierar- 
chy, though the rank of ijtihad :\m\ associated qualifications of 
learning are often mentioned. Ijtihad is a condition, though 
not everyone who has attained it will be called "ayatollah." 
The vagueness is due to absence of rigid ranks in the Shi'ite 
hierarchy. Before and since the Islamic Revolution in Iran 
(1979), the term "grand ayatollah" was used for the "sources 
of imitation." Since the revolution, there has been a tremen- 
dous increase in the use of the term for the Iranian cleri- 
cal elite. 

Ayatollahs are found at the apex of the scholarly s 

in in in ii I in ti li ion il min tries < , I and 1 

ing passed through a number of intermediate ranks (among 
which is Hojjat al-Islam). A scholar seems to be granted the 
rank of ayatollah through general agreement among the 
scholars. A person might be referred to as ayatollah by one 
writer and, when no one disputes the appellation, most 
scholars subsequent!) refer to him as ayatollah. An ayatollah, 
theoretically, holds this rank until he dies, though in recent 
times, ayatollahs (such as ayatollahs Shan atmadari and 

xMtintazeri in Iran) hav e lost their status alter serious disputes 
v, ilh supposedly higher- ranking Av alollah Rnhollah Khomeini. 

See also Hojjat al-Islam; Khomeini, Ruhollah; Marja 1 
al-Taqlid; Shi'a: Imami (Twelver). 


Mottahedeh, Roy. The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and 

Politics in Iran. London: Chalto and Hindus, 1986. 


Al Azhar is a mosque and a university founded in Cairo by the 
Fatimid Isma'ili imam and caliph al-Mu c izz li-Din Allah (d. 
975). Today it is the most important religious university in 
the Muslim world, and it is one of the oldest universities ever 
founded for both religious and secular studies. After the 
conquest of Egypt (969), Jawhar al Siqilli founded al Qahira 
(Cairo), where he built the mosque that was first known as 
jami c al-Qahira (the mosque of Cairo). The mosque was 
completed in nearly two years and first opened its doors in 
972. It had one minaret and occupied half the area of the 
present day al-Azhar mosque. Since then, it has become one 
of the most well known mosques in the Muslim world. Its 
name is an allusion to Zahra 5 (The Radiant), a title given to 
Eatima, the daughter of prophet Muhammad. Al-Azhar be- 
gan to acquire its academic arid scholastic nature in 975, 
during the reign of al-Mu'izz when the Qadi Abu '1-Hasan 
Ali ibn al-Nu 'man al Qayrawani satin the court of al-Azhar 
and read the Kitab al-iqti • (a v o !, ol '- hi ite jurisprudence, 
or fiqh), written by his father, Abu Hanifa al-Nu'man. Al- 
Nu 'man's family formed the intellectual elite of the Fatimids 
and became the first teacher in al-Azhar. 

In 998, al-Azhar moved a step further ton aril becoming an 
Islamic university. The Fatimid caliph al-'Aziz Billah ap- 
proved a proposal by his trusted minister Ya'qub ibn Killis to 
establish an educational system. He assigned a number of 
regular teachers to carry out an educative mission. The 
teachers were trained by Ibn Killis and his system became tire 
core of the academic education at al-Azhar. Furthermore, 
these teachers followed an organized curriculum and they 
received regular payments from the Fatimid government. 
The teaching was not limited to the religious sciences, but 
included discussions and free debates between scientists. 
Thus al-Azhar acquired the characteristics of an academic 
university. The diversified courses were a pan ol the teaching 
curriculum (the jurisprudence of four different schools of law, 
Arabic language, and lii.erai.ure), \\ hen the Ayyubid dynasty 
(1 169-1252) took power, they wanted to erase every trace of 
the Fatimids. Al-Azhar's reputation did not cease growing 
and the Shi'ite view was eclipsed by the Suimi interpretation 

of Hi i ill. Later, al-Azhar became the most important Sunni sciences, al-Azhar opened technical and practical faculties to 

center of knowledge. teach medicine, engineering, agriculture, and other subjects. 

This widening of ieachinu was intended to make al-Azhar 

Under the rei«n of the Mamltiks. between 1250 and 1517, ,. ..... . , , . . ... 

a . radiate not only in religions sciences Inn also in scientific 

many scientists soti«itt relnge in alAzhar, and were received .. . ,. , , , ' . ,. . r , ,. . , 

- disciplines. However, the addition of a modern, non traditional 

with open arms. 1 he arrival of these scientists undoubtedly - , - , ■ ... 

.1 , ,. . ■ curriculum was controversial among more conservative Mus- 

contnbuted to the enrichment ol its teaching; al Azhar bad .. ^ . .. _ . . 

n age during the fourteenth and fifteenth o 
Sciences such as medicine, mathematics, astronomj , geogra See also Education; Madrasa; Zaytuna. 

phy, and history were studied there. 


In 1822 the educational system was regulated and the LapiduS; ^ M _ MmUm ^ jn ^ ^ Mmk A 
highest diploma then delivered by al-Azhar was called al- Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967. 

'iihniiiyyn, which was equivalent to a doctorate. In 1950, al- „. . „ ,_ ., ,, ,. „, ... ,,.,,, 

. , , , . , ^ ,..,,. , r i ■ Tntton, A. S. Matei , w \i Inn I In Hon m thi Middle 

Azhar s educational system was divided into three faculties: A London . Luzac> 1957- 

Islamic law [al -s pri ipl < tli reli ion 

and Arabic language. In 1961, besides its teaching of Islamic Diana Stei n - al I 



The Babi movement began during a period of he 
chiliastic expectation for the return of the Twelfth Imam (or 
Hidden Imam), who Shi'ite Muslims believe will fill the 
world with justice. As such, the movement attracted not only 
students of religion, but members from all strata of society 
who probably sought change in the existing order. 

The initial converts to the Babi movement were mid- to 
low-level cler tool of Twelver Shi'ite 

Islam. The school, founded upon the teachings of Shaykh 
Ahmad al-Ahsa'i, was mainstream with regard to Shi'ite law, 
Akhbari in its veneration for the utterances ascribed to the 
twelve imams, and thee ipproach to metaphysi- 

cal matters. Shaykh Ahmad's successor, Sayyed Kazem, de- 
veloped the ( of his predecessor and 
taught that the advent of the "promised one" was imminent, 
although he did not specify if this figure was to be an 
intermediary of the hidden imam or the imam himself. 

On 22 May 1844, c Ali Mohammad, a young merchant who 
had briefly attended the classes of Sayyed Kazem in Karbala, 
told a fellow Shaykhi disciple, Al shrui, that he 

was the "gate" (bah) of the Hidden Imam and wrote an 
extemporaneous commentary on the Qur'anic Sura of Joseph, 
the Qayyum al-asma\ to substantiate his claim. So impressed 
was Molla Hosayn and other students of Sayyed Kazem with 
the eloquence and learning of c Ali Mohammad and his ability 
to produce verses (ayat) at great speed and with no apparent 
forethought that they publicly endorsed his claims to be the 
gate of the Hidden Imam, while privately they believed that 
his station was much higher. The exact nature of the Bab's 
claims remained a matter of controversy during the first four 
years of his seven-year prophetic career. Although he initially 
made no explicit claim to prophe icitly claimed 

to receive revelation by emulating the style of the Qur'an in 
yum al-asma'. 

After the formation of the first core of believers, who, 
along with the Bab, were referred to as the first Vahed 
(Unity), the group dispersed at his instruction to proclaim the 
advent of the Bab, whose new theophany was to be initialed 
by his pilgrimage to Mecca, reaching a crescendo with his 
arrival in the holy cities of Iraq. The Bab instructed Molla 
Hosayn to disseminate his teachings in Iran and deliver the 
Qayyum al-asma" to the shah and his chief minister. Another 
disciple was sent to Azerbaijan, while others were instructed 
to return to their homes to spread the new message. The 
majority of the Bab's li . ted for Iraq, includ- 

ing Molla 'Ali Bastami, who was sent as a representative to the 
holy cities. There, he preached the new message in public. As 
a result, both the messenger and the author of the message 
were condemned as heretics in a joint fatwa by prominent 
Sunni and Shi'ite ulema in Iraq. 

Following this episode, the Bab decided not to meet with 
his followers in Karbal,: tied so as not to further 

raise the ire of an already enraged clerical establishment. This 
led to the disaffection of some of his more militant followers, 
who were expecting the commencement of a holy war. It also 
ned the Bab's critics, particularly the rival claimants 
for leadership of the Shaykhi community. 

Persecution of the Babis in Iran began in 1 845 and the Bab 
himself was confined to his home in June 1845. During this 
period he was forced to publicly deny certain claims that had 
been attributed to him, which he was willing to comply with 
since his actual claim was much more challenging, as wit- 
nessed in his later epistles and public statements, particularly 
from 1848 on he was the recipient of 

revelation am or implicitly 

by emulating the style of the Qur'an, the Bab challenged the 
right of the ulema to collect alms on behalf of the Hidden 
Imam and interpret scripture in his absence. Further, his 
claim to be the Qa'im (the one who rises at the end of time), threat 
ened the stab ar monarchy of Iran, which held 

power as the Shadow of God on earth and depended upon the 
quiescent Shi'ite clergy for legitimacy. 

Despite the hostility of much of the high-ranking clergy, 
the Bab continued to win converts from among the ulema, 
including two very prominent personalities: Sayyed Yahya 
Darabi and Molla Mohammad All Ilojjal al Islam Zanjani. 
In 1846, he managed to leave Shiraz and make his way to the 
home of the governor oflsfahan, Manuchehr Khan Mo'tamad 
al-Dawla, a Georgian Christian conven to Islam who sympa- 
thized with the Bab's cause. There, he enjoyed increasing 
popularity, which further roused the ulema, who incited the 
shah against die Bab. Following die dead) of his patron, he 
was placed under arrest. From this point on, the charismatic 
persona of the Bab was removed from the public arena, as he 
was transferred from prison to prison until his final execution 
at the hands of government troops on 9 July 1850. 

Although the Bab continued to influence the movement 
from prison through the dissemination of thousands of pages 
of writing, leadership of the community devolved upon his 
chief lieutenants, notabh Molla Hosayn, Molla Mohammad 
c Ali Barforushi (also known as the Qoddus, "the Most Holy"), 
Qorrat al-'Ayn, the well-known poetess (also known as 
Tahereh, "the Pure One"), Darabi. Zanjani, and Mirza Hosayn 
'Ali Nuri (later known as Baha'allah). The latter, together 
with Qoddus and Tahereh, presided over a decisive meeting 
of Babis al Badasht, where a formal break with Islamic law was 
initiated when Tahereh publicly removed her veil. She was 
later put to death in 1 852 upon the orders of the government, 
ratified by leading doctors of law. Qoddus would also die at 
the instigation of some members of the ulema following his 
capture at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, where he, Molla 
Hosayn, and an embattled group of Babis defended them- 
selves against government troops in the province of Khurasan. 
Molla Hosayn and most of die Ion's defenders lost their lives 
there. Similarly. Darabi and Zanjani led large groups oi Babis 
in armed resistance to government troops at Nayriz and 
Zanjan, but ultimately met the same fate as their fellow 
believers. In 1852, as a result of an assassination attempt on 
the life of Naser al Din Shall In some Babis, several hundred 
to a few thousand of the Bab's followers were brutally exe 
cuted or imprisoned. Among them was Mirza Husayn 'Ali 
Nuri, the future Baha'allah, who suffered a four-month 
captivity in a darkem lpil ,, ' , < followed by exile to Iraq. 

Although the demographic makeup of the Babi movement 
cannot be determined with precision, it is safe to say that it 
was largely an urban movement with significant concentra- 
tions of converts in rural areas, \\ hile it initially drew upon 
Shaykhi ulema, it later attracted followers from a range of 
social classes, particularly merchants and craftsmen. Finally, 
preaching and conversion were confined to predominantly 
Shi'ite areas in Iraq and Iran. 

As has been stressed by modern scholars, the Babi move- 
ment sen ed as a vehicle of social protest, uniting a number of 

otherwise inimical heterodox and social classes in opposition 
to the established order. Despite this shared desire for social 
change (which still remains to be proven), the Bab's charis- 
matic personality and forceful writing also played a central 
role in attracting converts and admirers, even in the West. 
Rather titan being an unwitting product of messianic expecla 
tion, content to remain within the bounds of traditional 
Shi'ite notions of the function of the Hidden Imam as the 
Mahdi and reformer of Islam, the Bab enunciated a supra- 
Islamic message that included new laws and social teachings 
designed, by his own admission, to prepare the people for a 
second theophany: the coming of "Him Whom God will 
make manifest" {man yiizbiriibii'llab). 

Although there were a number of claimants to this 
theophany in the 1850s, most Babis followed the Bab's 
nominee, Baha'allah's half-brother Mirza Yahya (also know n 
as Subh Azal). After Baha'allah claimed this station in 1863, 
however, the majority of Babis recognized him as the fulfill 
ment of the Bab's prophecies concerning the second theophany 
and subsequently identified themseh es as Balufis. The Bab's 
followers, who continued to owe their allegiance to Subh 
Azal, became known as Azalis and played an important role in 
Iran's constitutional revolution in 1906. 

See also Bab, Sayyed 'Ali Muhammad; Baha'allah; Baha'i 


Amanat, Abbas, Resurrection and Rcncutil: The Milking of the 
Babi Movement in Iran, 1844-1850. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell 
University Press, 1989. 

MacEoin, Denis. Rituals in Babism and Baha'ism. London: 
British Academic Press, 1994. 

William McCants 


Sayyed 'Ali Muhammad, later known as "the Bab," was born 
on 20 October 1819 in Shiraz, the provincial capital of Fars. A 
descendent of the prophet Muhammad's family, the Bab 
traced his lineage from the tribe of Quraysh to his father, 
Sayyed Muhammad Reza, a merchant in the bazaar of Shiraz. 
In his early childhood, the Bab's father died and he came 
under the care of his maternal uncles. During his adolescence 
and young adulthood, the Bab's uncle llajji Mirza Sayyed 'Ali 
was his most stalwart supporter, overseeing his limited educa- 
tion, guiding his earl) business ventures as a merchant, and 
later becoming one of the earliest adherents of his nephew's 

The Bab's demure demeanor as a child matured into 
quiet, religious contemplation, as noted by his contemporar- 
ies. His personal piety led him to undertake a pilgrimage to 
the Shi'ite holy shrines in Iraq between 1 840 and 1 841 . While 
there, the Bab, an adherent of the Shaykhi school of Twelver 
Shi he Islam, attended a few classes given by the Shaykhi 
leader Sayyed Kazem Rashti. On 22 May 1844, three years 
after his return to Shiraz, the Bab advanced his claim to divine 
authority from God to one of Kazem's students, Mulla 
Hosayn, and soon after pained a large following among 
seminarians who in turn made many converts among mer- 
chants and even upper-class landowners, including Mirza 
Husayn 'Ali Nuri, who later founded the Baha'i religion. 

Although the Bab couched his claims in abstruse language 
early in his career, the implications were not lost upon the 
Shi c ite ulema. In particular, they viewed his assertion to 
reveal verses in the same manner as Muhammad as a violation 
of a cardinal tenet of Shi'ite and Sunni Islam — that Muham- 
mad was the last of God's messengers. He was tried by 
religious judges and condemned to death for heresy. As a 
result of clerical agitation, he was soon arrested and suffered 
imprisonment until his execution on 9 July 1850, at the age 
of thirty. 

During his prophetic career, the Bab composed n 
religious texts of varying genres. Some of the more notable 
tides include tl i I isma' (his earliest, post-declaration 

doctrinal work), the Persian and Arabic Btiynus (two separate 
hooks detailing the laws of his new religion), and Dtilti il sub' a 
(an apologetic work). 

See also Babiyya; Baha'allah; Baha'i Faith. 


Amanat, Abbas. Resurrection and Renewal: The Making of the 
Babi Movement in Iran, 1844-1850. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell 
University Press, 1989. 

MacEoin, Denis. The Sources for Early Babi Doctrine and 
History. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1992. 

William McCants 


"Have you seen in all die length and breadth of the earth 
A city such as Baghdad? Indeed it is paradise on earth." 
(al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, in Lassner, Topography, p. 47) 

Thus begins a poem attributed variously to c Umara b. 'Aqil 

al-Khatafi and Mansur al-Namari in praise of Baghdad, the 
illustrious capital of the Abbasid caliphate in Iraq for close to 

five centuries. The city was founded by the second Abbasid 
caliph, A! hi J a' far al Mansur, on the banks of the Tigris River 
where it most closely approaches the Euphrates. While offi- 
cially called Dar al Salam, or the Abode of Peace, which 
recalls Qur'anic descriptions of Paradise (6:127; 10:25), the 
name Baghdad itself is reminiscent of a pre-Islamic settle- 
ment in the vicinity. However, this metropolis is not to be 
confused erroneously with the ancient towns of Babylon, 
Seleucia, and Ctesiphon. 

Following the turbulence and social upheavals of the 
Abbasid assumption of power from the Umayyads, al Mansur 
sought to move his capital to a more secure location in the 
East. The proclamation of Abu 1- 'Abbas as the first Abbasid 
caliph in 749 c.e. had irrevocably shifted the locus of imperial 
power away from Damascus, the ITmay) ad capital, to a series 
of successive sites in Iraq. Al-Mansur himself was initially 
based in al-IIashimiyyah, adjacent to Qasr Ibn Hubayra and 
close to Kn (a. The Rawandiyya uprising of 758 c.e., however, 
soon exposed the location's vulnerability, and al-Mansur 
began a thorough investigation of sites from which he could 
consolidate his rule. 


In accordance with the information gathered from scouts, 
local inhabit;) ins, and personal observation, the minor village 
of Baghdad was selected as an ideal location for the future 
Abbasid capital. The area had much to recommend itself in 
terms of its central location, fertile lands, temperate climate, 
ease of receiving provisions via the Tigris and Euphrates 
Rivers, the convening of caravan routes nearby, and the 
natural defenses provided by the surrounding canals. Con- 
struction of the imperial capital began in the year 762 c.e., 
though work was halted temporarily that same year while al- 
Mansur suppressed further uprisings emanating from Medina 
and Basra. Over one hundred thousand architects, artisans, 
and laborers from across the empire were employed in the 
creation of this city, at tremendous financial expense, over a 
period of four years. 

An alternative name for Baghdad, al-Madina al- 
Mudawwara, or the Round City, reflects the circular layout of 
al-Mansur's initial foundation. Baghdad was designed as a 
series of concentric rings, with the caliphal palace, known as 
Bab al-Dhahab, or the Golden Gate, and the attached grand 
congregational mosque located in the center, along with 
separate structures for the commander of the guard and the 
chief of police. The caliph was thereby equidistant from all 
points within the city, as well as surrounded by its consider- 
able fortifications. Only the residences of his younger child- 
ren, those of his servants and slaves, and various government 
offices shared access onto this inner circle. Four walkways 
radiated outward from the central courtyard in the directions 
of northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest, passing 
through the inner circle of surrounding structures; then an 
enclosure wall followed by an interval of space; then a resi- 
dential area followed by another interval; then a large wall of 
outer defense, a third interval, a second smaller wall; and 
finally a deep, wide moat surrounding the entire complex. 

The Round City initially retained an austere administra- 
tive and military character. On the city's outskirts, large land 
grants at varying distances from the capital were given to 
members of the Abbasid family, the army, and chiefs of the 
government agencies. In addition to the initial settlers, com- 
prised of those loyal to the caliph and his new regime, large 
numbers of laborers, artisans, and merchants migrated to 
Baghdad in pursuit of the largesse showered upon those 
necessary to sustain the new imperial capital. What quickly 
grew to be a thriving market within the walls of the Round 
City was ultimately perceived to be a security threat and, in 
773 c.e., was transferred southwest of Baghdad, to al-Karkh. 
There, the commercial activities of the Abbasid capital flour- 
ished, and Baghdad rapidly developed into an economically 
vibrant metropolis. 

The main markets of Baghdad were subdivided according 
to their various specialties which included food, fruit, flowers, 

The inner city of Baghdad c. 800 

source: Lunde, Paul. Islam: Faith, Culture, History. New York: 
DK Publishing, Inc., 2002. 

The inner city of Baghdad ci 

textiles, clothes, booksellers, goldsmiths, cobblers, reedweavers, 
soapmakers, and moneychangers that served the populace 
and government officials. Baghdad exported textiles and 
items made of cotton and silk, glazed-ware, oils, swords, 
leather, and paper, to mention only a few, through both local 
and internation hi I ( h tihtn i go\ ernmenr.-appoinr.ed 
regulator, ensured the fair practices of the marketplace as well 
as supervised the public works of proliferating mosques and 
bathhouses, '["lie opulence and luxury of court hie in Baghdad 
were legendary, and reflected the vast political and economic 
power of the Abbasid Empire. 

The magnanimity of the Abbasid caliphs and the well- 
placed inhabitants of Baghdad also extended into encourag- 
ing intellectual pursuits, thereby establishing the Abbasid 
capital as one of the world's most sophisticated and presli 
gious centers of learning. Renowned Islamic scholars of 
diverse geographical and ethnic origins held sessions in the 
mosques and colleges of cosmopolitan Baghdad, attracting 
innun rabl I i off I philological, and spiritual knowl 

edge. Bookshops and the private homes of individual scholars 
and high government officials, such as the wazir, also served 
as venues for intellectual discussion and debate. Inns located 
near the most] ties provided lodging to those who had devoted 
themselves to scholarly pursuits, and accommodations were 
later made available within the institutions of the madrasa 
ilegal college) and ribat (Sufi establishment), both of which 
also offered stipends to affiliated students. 

Scientific research in the fields of astronomy, mathemat- 
ics, medicine, optics, engineering, botany, and pharmacology 
also prospered within the Ahhasid capital. Alongside experi 
mentation and exploration, translation of Hellenic, Indie, 
and Persian texts received patronage from dignitaries, physi- 
cians, and scientists in response to the professional and 
intellectual demands of an expanding Islamic society. Public 
libraries, both attached to mosques and as separate institu- 
tions, contributed further to the dissemination of knowledge 
among the populace, while the establishment of hospitals as 
charitable endowments throughout the city ensured the pro- 
vision of free medical care to anyone who so required it. 
Mobile clinics were even dispatched to remote villages on a 
regular basis, with the aims of offering comprehensive health 

The political fragmentation of the sprawling Abbasid 
Empire ultimately contributed to a decline in the revenues 
and hence in the general fortunes of the capital in Baghdad. 
Increasing civil disturbances in the face of weakened central 
authority, as well as rife Sunni-Shi'ite conflicts, resulted in 
the deterioration and destruction of vast segments of the 
waning metropolis. Nevertheless. Baghdad retained its pres- 
tige as the center of the Islamic caliphate and a symbol of 
Muslim cultural, material, and scholarly achievement. It was 
therefore with great consternation that news was received of 
the Mongols's savage invasion and ravaging of the city in 
1258 c.e. Hundreds of thousands of Baghdad's inhabitants, 
including the caliph and his family, leading personalities, and 
scholars w ere mercilessly put to death, and the great scientific 
and literary treasures of Baghdad were burned or drowned in 
the waters of the Tigris. 

Thereafter, Baghdad was transformed into a provincial 
center within the Mongol Empire, under the control of the 
Ilkhanids until 1339 c.e. and then the Jalayrids until 1410 c.e. 
Hie Karakoynnln Turkomans and the Akkovunlu Turkomans 
ruled Baghdad successively, until the city was conquered by 
Shah Ismail in 1508 c.e. and incorporated into the Safavid 
Empire. A subsequent Perso-Ottoman struggle for Baghdad 
and its symbolic sites resulted in Sultan Sulayman the Mag- 
nificent's conquest of the city in 1534 c.e., only to be lost 
again to the Saiavids, and then regained by the Ottoman 
Sultan Murad IV in 1638 c.e. Baghdad remained the capital of 
the region's Ottoman province for nearly three centuries, and 
was occupied by the British in March 1917, during the course 
of World War I. In 1921, it became the seat of Faysal b. 
Husayn's kingdom undei British Mandate and remained the 
capital of Iraq throughout its successive developments into an 
independent constitutional monarchy (1930), federated 
Hashimite monarchy (1958), and then republic (1958). 

See also Caliphate; Empires: Abbasid; Revolution: Classi- 
cal Islam; Revolution: Islamic Revolution in Iran; 
Revolution: Modern. 


Jawad, Mustafa, and Susa, Ahmad. Baghdad. Baghdad: al- 

Majma' al-Timi al- 'Iraqi, 1958. 
La er, Jacob. 7 To] y if i i ' > I / 

Ages: Text and Studies. Detroit: Wayne State University 

Press, 1970. 
Lunde, Paul. Islam: Faith, Culture, History. New York: DK 

Publishing, 2002. 
Uakdisi, Geoi t ",i , ,< < L d Lea ruin in CI, cal Islam 

Brookfield, Vt.: Gower, 1991 . 
Makdisi, George. "The Reception of the Model of Islamic 

Scholastic Culture in the Christian West." In Science in 

lslamh ( i ill , ti i 

Edited by Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. Istanbul: Research Centre 

for Islamic History and Culture, 2000. 
Sayyad, Nezar, al-. Cities and Caliphs: On the Genesis of Arab 

Muslim Urbanism. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. 
Tahari, Muhammad al . Abbasid Authority Affirmed. Trans 

lated by Jane Dammen McAuliffe. Albany: State Univer- 
sity of New York Press, 1995. 
Wit li 1 a ul 77 Plat \Vi , Men Pra To < , Citii 

hlamu Lands Si b thrtin I ' Chicago 

University of Chicago Press, 2001. 

Mona Hassan 

BAHA'ALLAH (1817-1892) 

"Baha'allah," a title meaning "splendor of God," was the 
name given to Mirza Husayn 'Mi Nuri, prophet and founder 
of the Baha'i faith. 

Born in Tehran into an elite bureaucratic family, he was 
converted in 1844 to the Babi religion, the messianic move- 
ment begun that year by the Iranian prophet Sayyed 'Mi 
Muhammad, commonly known as the Bab ("Gate"). He 
played a significant role in the early Babi community . Impris- 
oned as a Babi in 1852, he was exiled to Iraq, where he became 
the de facto leader of the Babis. He was summoned to 
Istanbul by the Ottoman government in April 1863 and then 
arrested and exiled again to Edirne in European Turkey. 
There he made an open claim to prophethood that was 
eventually accepted In most Babis, though opposed by his 
younger brother, Subh-e Azal. Marmed by disputes among 
the Babi exiles, the Turkish governmem imprisoned Baha'al- 
lah in Acre, Palestine, in 1868, where he lived under gradually 
improving conditions until his death. His eldest son, 'Abd al- 
Baha', was recognized by most Baha'is as his si 
tomb near Acre is now a Baha'i shrine. 

Baha'allah wrote extensively, mostly letters to the believ- 

■s. His works included commentary on scripture, Baha'i law. 
n current affairs, prayers, ami theological discus- 
is of all sorts. Though his writings were grounded in the 

c Shi'ite thought of the Bab, he was politically sophis- 
ticated, and his own religious thought is often best seen in the 
context of the Westernizing reformers of the nineteenth 
century Middle East. The social liberalism of the modern 

Baha'i iaith has its roots in Baha'allah's writings. 

Baha'allah is considered a "manifestation of God" by 
Baha'is and is thus a prophet ol the rank of Moses, Jesus, and 

See also c Abd al-Baha'; Bab, Sayyed 'Ali Muhammad; 
Baha'i Faith. 


BahaVllah. Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i- 

Aqdas. Translated by Habib Taherzadeh. Wilmette, 111.: 

Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1988. 
Balyuzi, Hasan. Baha'u'llah: the King of Glory. Oxford, U.K.: 

George Ronald, 1980. 
Cole, Juan R. I. Modernity and the Millenium: The Genesis of the 

Baha'i Faith iv tin <eteenth ■< iti Middle East. New 

York: Columbia University Press, 1998. 

John Walbridge 


The Baha'i faith was founded by Baha'allah as an outgrowth 
of the Babi religion, the messianic movement begun in 1844 
by the Iranian prophet Sawed 'Ali Muhammad, commonly 
known as the Bab ("Gate"). 


After the execution of the Bab in 1850 and the pogrom 
following a Babi attempt to assassinate the shah, the Babi 

movement suffered a crisis ol leadership, its titular leader was 
Mirza Yahya, known as Subh-eAzal, but from the mid-1860s 
the effective leader was Azal's elder brother, Baha'allah. Both 
were exiles in Baghdad. Baha'allah lalerwrote that lie had had 
mystical experiences while imprisoned in Tehran in 1852, 
and by the early 1860s he had begun hinting that he was "he 
whom God shall make manifest," the Babi messiah. On 21 
April 1863 he announced this chum to several close associates, 
an event that Baha'is now consider the beginning of their 
religion. Baha'allah nonetheless continued to recognize the 
nominal leadership of Azal. The final break came in 1867 
when he wrote to Azal formally claiming prophethood. The 
Babis then split into three main groups. By the end of the 
1870s those who had accepted the chum of Baha'allah were 
the large majority and came to he known as Baha is. A smaller 
number, the Azalis, stayed loyal to Subh-e Azal and vocifer- 
ously opposed Baha'allah. A few accepted neither claim. 

Through his extensive correspi indence and meetings with 
pilgrims during his exile in Acre, Baha'allah organized the 

He rejected the militancy and t 

Shi'ite mysticism eharaci.erisi.ic of the Bains, instead stressing 
political neutralit) and progri iv( I hemes such as interna- 
tional peace, education, and the emancipation of women and 
slaves. By the time of the death of Baha'allah in 1892, the 
Iranian community had recovered from the disasters of the 
Babi period, and small but growing communities, mainly 
consisting of Iranian emigres, had been established in many 
3 of the Middle East, the Russian Empire, and India. 

After Baha'allah's death most Baha'is accepted the leader 
ship of his eldest son, <Abd al-Baha'. In the 1890s small but 
influential communities of Baha'i converts from Christianity 
were established in Europe and North America. Despite the 
turmoil caused by World War I and by revolutions in Iran, 
Turkey, and Russia, 'Abd al-Baha' was able to establish an 
institutional structure lor most of die major Baha'i c 
ties, increasingly in the form of elected governing c 
tees known as spiritual assemblies. The most important even; 
of his ministry, however, was a series of journeys to Europe 
and America from 1911 to 1913. These trips were the occa- 
sion for an increasing stress on the liberal social teachings of 
the Baha'i faith. 

c Abd al-Baha' was succeeded in 1921 by his grandson, 
Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, whose English education and West 
ern orientation marked a final break with the religion's 
Islamic roots. Shoghi Effendi was not a charismatic figure like 
his grandfather and preferred to focus on institution-building 
and consolidation. The most spectacular achievement of his 
ministry was a series of "teaching plans," in which Baha'i 
missionaries settled in scores of new countries and territories, 
notably in Latin America, Africa, and the Pacific. By the 
1950s some of these communities were growing rapidly. 
Shoghi Effendi wrote extensively and systematically in Per 
sian and English, standardizing Baha'i theological self 
understanding and practice. His translations of several vol- 
umes of Baha'allah's writings became the standard Baha'i 
scriptures for Western Baha'is. He also wrote a history of the 
Babi and Baha'i Eailhs and translated a history of the Babi 
religion. These works also became fundamental for the self- 
understanding of Western Baha'is. Einally, through his con 
struction of Baha'i shrines and temples in Haifa, Acre, and 
several Western cities, he made the Baha'i faith more visible 
and created a Baha'i architectural idiom. 

Shoghi Effendi died in 1957, leaving neither an heir nor a 
will. In 1963, after a six \ ear interregnum, the various Baha'i 
national spiritual assemblies elected an international govern- 
ing body, the Universal House of Justice, which has since 
been elected every five years. The Universal House of Justice 
continued Shoghi Effendi's programs of teaching plans and 
construction. There are now several million Baha'is in the 
world, most in the developing world, leaving only a small 
minority in Iran or Isla 

This garden leads to the $250 million Baha'i Shrine of the Bab in 
Haifa, Israel that was completed in 2001 after ten years of 
construction. Built by the great grandson of Baha'allah, founder of 
the Baha'i faith, it is one of many Baha'i shrines and temples 
throughout the Muslim world and the West. Baha'i is a religion 
that split from Islam. It emphasizes the unity among all religions, 
races, and nations. AP/Wide World Photos 

Thus, racism, nationalism, religious fanaticism, prejudice of 
any sort, and the degradation of women are condemned in 
Baha'i teachings. Likewise, there is no Baha'i clergy, and all 
believers are considered fundamentally equal. The theme of 
unity permeates Baha'i thought and practice, giving the 
community a decidedly egalitarian character. 

The Baha'i faith is nominally a religion of law, but its 
religious law. though generally ana logons to Islamic law and 
practice, is usually simpler and less demanding. There is a 
daih prayer', an annual nineteen-day fast, nine major holy 
days, and a "feast" every nineteen days on the first day of each 
month of the Baha'i calendar. Regulations governing mar- 
riage, divorce, and funerals are simple. Baha'is are monoga- 
mous, and marriage is conditioned on the consent both of the 
couple and of living parents. In practice, Baha'i communal 
life often is less concerned with worship than with continu- 
um administration and parlicularh the goal of expanding the 

Baha'i scripture consists of the authenticated writings of 
Baha'allah and Abd al Baha . Shoghi Effendi's works are 
authoritative as interpretation, and writings of the Universal 
House of Justice are authoritative in legislative and adminis- 
trative matters. Writings oi individuals are considered per 
sonal opinion and not binding on others. Because the 
authoritative writings are so voluminous, Baha'i writers have 
tended to focus on collection and collation. Most Baha'i 
theological writing has been polemical rather than specula 
tive in character. There is no developed Baha'i legal tradition. 
Since the 1970s there has been increasingly vigorous aca- 
demic and theological study of the Baha'i faith. 

See also 'Abd al-Baha'; Babiyya; Baha'allah. 

Baha'i Theology, Beliefs, and Practices 

The theological roots of the Baha'i faith are in the Babi 
religion, which was essential!) an esoteric Shi'ite movement. 
The fundamental Baha'i theological conception is that of the 
logos figure of the manifestation of God: the prophet as the 
perfect mirror of God's attributes. Human beings and all 
other creatures are lesser mirrors of God's various attributes. 
The prophet is thus a model and a revealer of God's knowl- 
edge and will. God's full plan is revealed gradually by a series 
of prophets, who guide humanity's emergence into a world- 
wide spiritual civilization. Baha'allah is of particular signifi- 
cance, since his ministry marks the beginning of human 
maturity and world unity. Thus, for Baha'is all religions are 
fundamentally true, having been based on prophecy, though 
the Baha'i faith is destined to supercede them. The differ- 
ences among religions are due either to the differing circum- 
stances of the time and place of their revelation or to gradual 
corruption of the original message. 

The characteristic feature of Baha'allah's revelation is its 
stress on unity, a theme expressed in Baha i social teachings. 


Smith, Peter. The Babi and Baha'i Religions: From Messianic 

Shi'ism to a World Religion. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge 

University Press, 1987. 
Stockman, Robert. The Baha'i Faith in America. Wilmette, 

111.: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1985-1995. 
Walbridge, John. Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time. 

Baha'i Studies 1. Oxford: George Ronald, 1996. 

John Walbridge 


Since the late fourteenth century there have been Muslim 
communities in southeast Europe. For most of their history 
they were an important and integral part of the Ottoman 
Empire. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when 
ethnic-based nation-states came to power in the Balkans, 
most of these Muslim communities lost prominence and 
some disappeared. Recent attempts by certain nationalist 

forces to erase the history of Muslims in the Balkans have led 

to new interest in these A In slim peoples of Europe. 

Expansion of Islam into Southeast Europe 

Ottoman armies and Sufi missionaries brought Islam into 
southeast Europe in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centu- 
ries. Beginning with the conquest of eastern Thrace in the 
mid-1300s, the Ottomans soon took Macedonia. They fought 
Serbian prince Lazar and his Balkan army at Kosovo in 1389, 
and defeated Bulgaria soon after in 1393. Along with military 
conquest, the ( Htomans brought Muslim settlers from Anatoli:] 
to occupy main march routes and river valleys. In 1456 
Athens fell to the Ottomans, followed In Bosnian and Alba- 
nian lands, and finally Belgrade in 1521. 

There was significant conversion of local people to Islam, 
principally among Bosnians and Albanians, but also across the 
Balkans. This conversion was gradual, continuing through- 
out the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, and 
even later among some Albanians. Except for the devsirme, 
the forced recruitment of Christian boys for special military 
and governmental service, this conversion to Islam was vol- 
untary. The Balkans h id b i n ion of contention between 
western, or Latin, and eastern, or Byzantine, forms of Chris- 
tianity. In Bosnia and Albania neither form of Christianity 
had been well preached or well established. In contrast the 
Sufi missionaries brought a tolerant form of religion and the 
Ottoman state a system of order based broadly on religious 
affiliation. The advantages of being Muslim were economic 
and cultural and included exemption from the head tax, 
privileges in land owning, and opportunities in state adminis 
tration and the military, as well as links with the vibrant 
culture and society of Istanbul. 

History and Main Developments 

During the Ottoman period, lasting from the fourteenth 
century to the early twentieth century, the history of Muslims 
in the Balkans largely parallels the history of the empire itself. 
When the Ottoman Empire was at its height in the sixteenth 
century, the Balkan cities of Edirne, Sarajevo, and Salonika 
(the latter with a significant Jewish population) were rich 
cosmopolitan centers of trade and learning, with impressive 
mosques, madrasas (schools), and bridges. Three of Sultan 
Suleyman the Alagnificent's grand wazirs — Ibrahim the Greek, 
Rustem the Bulgarian, and Mehmet Sokullu, a Slav from 
Bosnia — were converted Muslims from the Balkans. At the 
end of the seventeenth century, Albanian Muslims from the 
Koprulu family (Mehmet, Ahmed, Mustafa, and Husein) 
served as grand wazirs and provided well needed stability in a 
century of decline. For, as western European countries gained 
power in trade routes and military prowess, formerly the 
purview of the Ottomans, the Ottoman Empire weakened 
economically and the Austro-Hungarian Empire took terri- 
tories from the Ottomans, including Hungary, part of present- 
day Croatia (1699), and later Bosnia ( 1878). The position of 
Muslim communities gradually declined as well until the 

Ottoman Empire in 
Southeast Europe 

I I Ottoman Empire in 1481 
I I Ottoman Empire in 1520 
I I Ottoman Empire in 1566 

1 1? 

Jutheast Europe. XNR 

breakup of Ottoman power in the Balkans left many of them 

The following period in the history of Muslims in the 
Balkans, the time of gn iwth of nation states, began variably in 
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with southern Greece 
becoming independent in 1821, followed by Serbia (whose 
northern part had been autonomous since 1815), Romania, 
and Bulgaria, all in 1 8 7 8 , and later by Albania in 1 9 1 2 . During 
these times there were forced migrations, massacres, and 
expulsions of Muslims, especially from the eastern Balkans, 
for the new nation-states were largely conceived as ethnic 
units tied to language and a form of Christianity. In contrast, 
many Balkan Muslims, who did not fit in the new nation-state 
design, were seen as allied with the Ottomans who had been 
increasingly ineffective and oppressive in the last century of 
their rule. Thousands of Muslims were forced to flee to 
Turkey. This would continue throughout the twentieth cen- 
tury with Balkan .Muslims from Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, 
and Bulgaria emigrating to the safety of Muslim Turkey. The 
exceptions to this were Muslims from the western Balkan 
lands of Albania and Bosnia. Most stayed in the Balkans 
throughout these times, although some Bosnian Muslims did 
emigrate in and after 1878. The large part of Bosnian Mus- 
lims, themselves Slavs, continued as landowners and free 

peasants under Austria J lungary's rule, 
part of Yugoslavia. As for the Albanian Muslims, some led the 
Albanian nationalist movement for independence; overall, 
Muslims made up 70 percent of the new independent state of 
Albania. There were also smaller communities of Slavic 
Muslims, Albanian Muslims, and Roma Muslims who stayed 
where they were and thus became minorities in different 
Balkan lands. 

Nationalism also came to the Turks. It is interesting that 
an Albanian Muslim in im Struga in present-day Macedonia, 
Ibrahim Temo, was one of the four founding members of 
what became known as the Young Turks. The founder of 
modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal, Liter known as Atautrk, was 
a Balkan Muslim from Salonika.. 

Later in the twentieth century, the Muslims in Bosnia 
came to be seen as an ethnic group as well. Before World War 
II they were considered a religious community. But after the 
war, with the secularization of the Communist Party and 

i up (an nalionaliti h ifliciall >et in 

an ethnic group under the label "Muslim" in 1968. Just as 
"Jew" in the United States can have both ethnic and religious 
meaning, so "Muslim" had both meanings in Yugoslavia. 
With the warfare in the 1990s, this ambiguity became a 
problem so that today the ethnic term for Bosnian Muslim is 

Characteristics and Cultural Achievements 

The Muslims of the Balkans are largely Sunni of the Hannafi 
school. There are also Sufi communities with more inclusive 
theologies, including the Sunni Naqshibandi, as well as the 
Halveti, Mevlevi, Qadiri, Rifa'i, Sa'di, Melami, and Bektashi 
orders. Of these, the Bektashi rose to special prominence in 
Albania in the twentieth century, only to become a target of 
Communist Enver Hoxha's regime (1944-1991). Also in 
Bulgaria there are communities of Ali'ids. As in other parts of 

the Ottoman i oi Id religious poeta ! i rul 

nefes stems from these orders, and nicvhuh, and ghazels from 
the larger Muslim communities. 

Better known to the broader world than religious poetry is 
the remarkable architecture of Muslims in the Balkans. This 
includes the older sections of cities v, ilh their bazaars, mosques, 
fountains, hm / i 1 ttsas (schools), 

and old Ottoman homes. One of the masterpieces of Otto- 
man architecture is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne (1575) by 
Sinan. Also well known were other remarkable mosques like 
the Ferhat Pasha Mosque of Banja Luka (1579), the Aladza 
Mosque in Foca (1550), and the Gazi llusrevbegova Mosque 
of Sarajevo (1530), all in Bosnia, as well as the famous 
Ottoman bridge atMostar in Herzegovina (1566). 

Contemporary Situation and Concerns 

The war in Bosnia (1992-1995) between Serbian and Croatian 

nationalists and Muslim Bosnians led to the destruction of the 
famous mosques of Banja Luka and Foca and the severe 

......': BOSNIA ••••:■ 

{"and ;'■' 






Bosnia After the Dayton 
Peace Accords (1995) 

Dayton Agreement 

□ Federation of Bosni 
and Her 
[3 Republi 

Composition of Bosnia-Herzegovina following the signing of the 
1995 Dayton Peace Accords. XNR Productions, Inc./Gale 

damaging of the Gazi Husrevbegova Mosque in Sarajevo, as 
well as the destruction of many more Islamic sites throughout 
Bosnia. The famous bridge at Mostar, and the Oriental 
Institute in Sarajevo, where important historical documents 
of the Ottoman period were housed, were both deliberately 
targeted and destroyed. The war in Kosovo (1999) led to the 
destruction of many Islamic monuments and documents 
there as well. One of the purposes of these civil wars was to 
erase the Islamic heritage of these regions of the Balkans. 
This is not new. There were once many mosques in Belgrade 
that were destroyed in the late nineteenth century. Such 
destruction was in marked contrast to the usual Ottoman 
policy that had promoted tolerance for Christian and Jewish 

Nevertheless there remain Muslim c 
Balkans. The greatest number of Muslims are still in Bosnia, 
although many were killed in the war and many more became 
refugees. The next largest population of Muslims in the 
Balkans is in Albania, but many were secularized during the 
long communist rule. Albanians in Kosovo are also mainly 
Muslim. But of all the Albanian Muslims in the Balkans, those 
in western Macedonia are among the most observant. They 
form at least one-third of the population, but have been kept 
out of most state jobs and universities. Bulgaria has three 
different Muslim populations: Turks, who are the largest 
group; Pomaks, who are Slavs living in the southern moun- 
tains; and Roma, who are largely Muslim. Dur 
rule in Bulgaria, there were at times direct polic 

"bulgarize" the Muslim peoples by forcing them to change 
their Muslim names to Slavic Bulgarian ones, and there were 
prohibitions against circumcision. In the 1980s over 300,000 
Turks from Bulgaria went to Turkey rather than submit to 
these policies. Since then, some have returned and the poli- 
cies in post communist Bulgaria are nor as restrictive. Romania 
has two small Muslim communities. In Greece, most Mus- 
lims left or were part of the population transfers in the early 
1920s. There remain, however, the Turkish Muslims of 
western Thrace in northeast Greece. 

An irony of the fighting in Bosnia at the end of the 
twentieth century is that the attempt of Serbian and Croatian 
nationalists to eradicate the Islamic history and the Muslim 
people of the region has resulted in a reirn igoralion oflslamic 
practices there. The Bosnians, who were once among the 
most secularized of Muslims, now include those who are 
more observant. But the long tradition of tolerance and 
mutual respect of Balkan Islam, for « Inch places like Sarajevo 
were justly famous, has been severely damaged. 

■ i ' i Empires: Ottoman; Europe, Islam in. 


Bringa, Tone Bei Musi ' • >• Id i and 

Community in a t , i Bo t T'ill, ! rinceron, N.J.: 

Princeton University Press, 1995. 
D( inia, Robert J., and Fine, John V. A. Bosnia and Hercegovina: 

A Tradition Betrayed. New York: Columbia University 

Press, 1994. 
Emiii"N '.n Turkish , KM. U //'/// Minnritia Bi , i 

London: Hurst & Company, 1997. 
[ashick, Fred ' i 11 i ii ' ' ' 

Sultans. Oxford, U.K.: The Clarendon Press, 1929. 

I I 1 1111 ' / i ' 1 1, 

Translated by Midhat Ridjanovic. Istanbul: Research Cen- 
tre for Islamic History, Art, and Culture, 1994. 

Popo ic, Alexandre. L'l ' < I i 

est europeen dans hi perivde post ottomane. Berlin: Otto 

Harrassowitz, 1986. 
Poulton, Hugh, and Taji Farouki, Snha. Muslim Identity and 

the Balkan State. London: Hurst & Company, 1997. 
Trix, Frances. "The Resurfacing of Islam in Albania." The 

East European Quarterly 28, no. 4 (1995): 533-549. 

Frances Trix 

BAMBA, AHMAD (1853-1927) 

Ahmad Bamba was the founder of the Muridiyya (Mouride) 
Brotherhood. Born in the Baol region in Senegal, Ahmad u as 
initialed into the L)adiriyya Brotherhood Harii/a) by Shaykh 
Sidia in Mauritania. He founded his own brotherhood in 
1886 and established the town of Touba (Senegal) as the 

capital ofhis order in 1887. Shaykh Ahmad Bamba was highly 
respected for his learning and piety but he also attracted 
followers who were struggling against the French occupatii in. 

1 he new brotherhood spread rapidly and was associated 
with rumors of a possible uprising. In 1895, Ahmad Bamba 
was exiled to Gabon and was not permitted to return to 
Senegal until 1902. His return attracted a wave of new 
followers and more rumors of rebellion. The French exiled 
him again in 1903, this time to Mauritania. Ahmad returned 
to Senegal in 1907. Again large numbers ol followers (locked 
to him and the French were concerned. After 1910, however, 
the French began to trust the Muslim leader somen hat more, 
even turning to him for help on occasion. Most notably, he 
recruited troops and raised money for French efforts in 
World War I. For this he was made a ( !be\ alier de la Legion 
d'Honneur in 1919. Ahmad Bamba, however, collaborated 
reluctantly, lie was a religious man and a mystic, given to 
meditation and scholarship. 1 lis brotherhood was organized 
on a principle of total obedience, hard work, and self-denial 
and became the most powerful religious group in Senegal. 

See also Africa, Islam in; Colonialism; Tariqa; Touba. 


Behrman, Lucy C. Mush B ' rhoodi nd Pol - uegal 

Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970. 
' >nl< it, Christian A \l >m "i I > t Pouvoi 

Senegal. Paris: Pedone, 1981. 
Creevey, Lucy. "Ahmad Bamba 1850-1927." In Studies in 

West African Islamic History. Vol. 1: The Cultivators of Islam. 

Edited by John Ralph Willis. London: Frank Cass, 1979. 
O'Brien.. Donal Cruise. The Mourides of Senegal: The Political 

and Economic Org i fan l B othi/hood. Oxford, 

U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1971. 

Lucy Creevey 

BANNA, HASAN AL- (1906-1949) 

Hasan al-Banna was an Islamic reformer and the founder of 
Ikhwan al-Muslimin (Muslim Brotherhood). Banna was born 
in Mahmudiyya, a town near Alexandria, Egypt. In addition 
to receiving the traditional education in Qur'an, hadith, 
elemental}, principles of law, and Arabic language, Banna 
became a member of the Ilasafiyya Sufi order during his teen 
years. Although members of the Brotherhood would later 
attack Suiism, Banna always acknowledged the strong inilu 
ence of Suiism in his religious outlook and social activism. 

In 1923, Banna enrolled in Dar al-'Ulum in Cairo, the 
national teachers training college, whose eclectic curriculum 
of traditional Islamic am! modern Western subjects had been 
shaped by Muhammad 'Abduh and Rashid Rida. In 1927, he 
was sent to his first leaching assignment in a primary school 

in Isma'iliyya. Located in the Suez Canal zone, Isma'iliyya 
was home to large [lumbers of European civilians as well as 
British military personnel. Banna was exposed daily to for- 
eign imperialism in a direct manner that he had not experi- 
enced in Cairo. He began to question the reasons for Egypt's 
political subservience and the means for its revival. Only 
through a revival of Islamic consciousness among the masses, 
Banna concluded, could imperialism be combated. 

In March 1928, Banna and six other men founded an 
organization attached to the Ilasafiyya order to "command 
the right and forbid the wrong." By the following year, the 
organization was already referred to as Ikhwan al-Muslimin. 
The organization began as an educational society, meant to 
instill or revive Islamic convictions among ordinary Egyp- 
tians. Its primary goal was to create an Islamic societj based 
on the model of the earliest Muslim generations. Banna 
traveled throughout the canal zone, lecturing, collecting 
donations, organizing chapters, and building offices and 
mosques. The Brotherhood's organization reflected Banna's 
Sufi background. Chapters consisted of groups of young men 
organized hierarchically according to the level of commit- 
ment and knowledge demonstrated. Tying the various chap- 
i i ii r w 1 mi i ' i inde >, the movement, 

and a majlis al-shura (advisory council) composed officially of 
twelve members, though s 

By 1932 Banna had moved the headquarters of the Broth- 
erhood to Cairo, reflecting his intention to play a much more 
active role in Egypt's politics. The Brotherhood was also 
firmly entrenched in regional politics by the late 1940s 
through branches in Palestine, S) ria, Iraq, and Sudan. Banna's 
ideological vision may be gleaned from his numerous writ- 
ing lie two mo t im| >rta it in in hi n em >ii (M " < 
and a published collection of his letters (Ma/mti'at al-rasa'il). 
For him Islam was a holistic creed, providing Muslims guide 
lines for private piety, public morality, and social justice. The 
logical extension of this view was the establishment of an 
islamic state. The leadership of such a state could onh come 
from committed and informed Muslims, and the Brother- 
hood was to prepare itself for this role. 

Banna could not quell dissensii in v, ithin the Brotherhood 
once it entered the turbulent Egyptian politics of the 1940s. 
His control over the "secret apparatus," the armed wing of 
the organization thai planned and carried out attacks on 
government officials and institutions, was particularly tenu- 
ous. More militant members refused to f< >11< >w his agreement 
with the Egyptian government to merge the Brotherhood 
militia into the Egyptian army during the first Arab-Israeli 
war (1948-1949). Following a military decree banning the 
organization, Prime Minister Mahmud Eihrni al Nuqrashi 
was assassinated in December 1948 by a student associated 
with the Brotherhood, In retaliation, the secret police assassi- 
nated Banna on 12 February 1949. 


* bti I u i h mi I. Intel I ' ' R 

in the Modern Arab World. Albany; State University of New 
York Press, 1996. 

Banna, Hasan al-. Five Tracts of Hasan al-Banna (1906-1949): 
A Selection from i \Lijniti I Imam al-Shahid 

Hasan al-Banna. Translated by Charles Wendell. Berke- 
ley: University of California Press, 1978. 

Commins, David. "Hasan al-Banna (1906-1949)." InPioneers 
of Islamic Revival. Edited by Ali Rahnema. London: Zed 
Books, 1994. 

Mitchell, Richard P. The Society of the Muslim Brothers. New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1969. 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

BAQILLANI, AL-(?-1013) 

Qadi Abu Bakr Muhammad b. al-Tayyib b. Muhammad, also 
known as Ibn al Baqillani, was an Ash a rile theologian and 
Malikile jurisprudent. Al Baqillani was regarded as the sec- 
ond founder of Ash arism for his contribution to the systema 
tization of the school. 

Born in Basra he lived mostly in Baghdad, and studied 

theologyuiidei il Vsh'ai tud n Ibn Mujahid al-Ta'i and 
Abu '1-Hasan al Bahili, and fiqb (jurisprudence) under Abu 
Abdallah al Shirazi and Ibn Abu Zayil al Oayrawani. He 
attended discussion meetings with representatives of other 
schools in Shiraz, was sent to Constantinople as a special 
envoy to Byzantine rulers, served as a judge (qadi) in Uqbera 
and Saglir ton ns, and taught in Baghdad until his death in 101 s. 

Well known for his disputational skills and polemical 

vn'iliri! i! !' i |illani bool u rnainh on iheoloi Uai ge 
work, llidayat til mtistarshidin \va al nititjiur ft iisnl til din, is 
preserved at al-Azhar library (ms. no. 342) in Cairo. His 
works, which largely collected and classified Ash'arile view-., 
played a major role in the establishment and spread of the 
school. He emphasized the existence of atoms in order to 
avoid the idea of pre-eternity of the universe and elaborated 
some concepts in Sunni kalam, such as empty space, the 
continuous creation of accidents due to their incapability of 
lasting more than one unit of time, and the rational possibility 
of miracles. However, he preserved the Salafi (Salafiyya) 
tendency of not interpreting Qur'anic expressions attributed 
to God suggesting anthropomorphism. Most of his books 
include lengthy 'polemics against other monotheistic relig- 
ions. His skepticism toward the compatibility of ancient 
metapliA sics v\ ith Islamic doctrines led him to oppose the use 
of formal logic m religious disciplines. In some issues of 
Islamic legal methodology, such as ijtihad and ijma\ he 
influenced later jurists. 

Sec also Ikhwan al-Muslimin. 

See also Ash'a 

;, Ash'aira; Kalam. 


Chaumont, E. "Baqillani, theologien ash'arite et juriste 
malikite, contre les legistes a propos de Pijtihad et de 
l'accord unanime de la communaute."' Stadia hlamka 79 
(1994): 79-102. 

Grunebaum, Gustave E., von. 1 •' Century D i < 

Arabic Litei ai i T \ ( /: 1 Stttwns on Poetry 

i ' 'Qui ' 1 ! <>: ( lucago Univer- 

sity Press, 1950. 

Haddad, Wadi Z. "A Tenth-Century Speculative Theolo- 
gian's Refutation of the Basic Doctrines of Christianity: 
al-Baqillani." In Christian Muslim Encounters. Edited by Y. 
Yazbeck Haddad and Wadi Zaydan Iladdad. Gainsville: 
University Press of Florida, 1995. 

coups. In power, the party in both countries effectively 

centralized control of the economy in government hands and 
instituted distributionist policies that originally benefited 
both the urban and rural middle and lower classes, though 
over time at the cost of economic grow I h and efficiency. Both 
the Syrian and Iraqi Ba'th came to rely on religious minorities 
to staff sensitive militan and security positions — Alawis in 
Syria and Sunnis in Iraq — as the popularity of the govern- 
ments waned. A bitter split developed within the party in 
1966, reflected in the extremely hostile relations between 
Ba'lhist Syria and Ba'lhist Iraq. Like man)' ruling parlies, the 
Ba'th lost much of its ideological elan once in power, and 
became the vehicle for increasingly personalized rule in Syria 
and Iraq. 

M. Sait Ozervarli See also Nationalism: Arab. 

BASRI, HASAN AL- (642-728) 

Hasan al-Basri was one of the most famous early Sunni 
theologians and ascetics. Born in Medina, he lived in Basra, 
where he was renowned for his piety, learning, and elo- 
quence. He produced sermons, short commentaries on the 
Our 5 an, aphorisms, and statements on ethics. In theology, he 
occupied a middle position on the subjects of free will and 
predestination. He believed that humans choose their ac- 
tions, but that God determines the outlines of fate. He 
criticized Lmayyad caliphs and officials, but did not oppose 
them politically . 1 lis spiritual practice stressed self reflective 
contemplation. He is considered a father of Sufism and 
appears as the source of many Sufi lineages. 

See iilso Kalam; Tasawwuf. 


The Ba'th Party is the governing parti in Iraq and Syria, and 
is theoretically committed to the cause of Arab nationalism 
and unity. The Ba'th (Arabic for resurrection or renewal) 
Party was founded by two French-educated Syrian school 
teachers, Michel Aflaq (Greek Orthodox Christian) and 
Salah al-Din al-Bitar (Sunni Muslim), in 1943. "Regional 
commands" of the Ba'th were founded in many Arab coun- 
tries, all in principle subject to the "national command" of the 
founders. The parU 's slogan, "unity, freedom and socialism,"' 
rallied students, intellectuals, and army officers to its cause in 
many Arab states, and it played an important role in the 
tumultuous politics of Syria, Iraq, and Jordan in the 1950s. 
However, the party never achieved a strong mass following 
and had little electoral success am n here. The Ba'th came to 
power in Syria in 1963 and in Iraq in 1968 through militan 


Devlin, John F. The Ba'th Party: . I History tram Its Origins to 
1966. Stanford, Calif: Hoover Institution Press, 1976. 

Kienle, Eberhard. Ba'th v. Ba'th: The Conflict Between Syria 
and Iraq, 1968-1989. London: I. B. Tauris & Co., 1990. 

F. Gregory (in use 111 

BAZARGAN, MEHDI (1907-1995) 

The son of a merchant from Tabriz, Mehdi Bazargan was 
born in Tehran, Iran. Educated both in traditional Islamic 
/ in ! mi I i n ho >l h< < mpleli 1 hi tudie i ' , 

Polytechniqite and Ecole Normale in France. Muhammad 
Mosaddeq (b. 1882) admired Bazargan's engineering ap- 
proach to social organization, such as Tehran's fresh water 
project (c. 1952), and commissioned him to fill the gap 
resulting from the departure of British experts after the 
nationalization of Iran's oil industry. Lie became a founder of 
the Engineering Association of Iran in 1945 and of the 
National Liberation Movement in 1961. 

Bazargan was one of a group of Islamic thinkers who 
convened to discuss current issues in the earl) 1960s, and was 
especially interested in adapting Simile Islam to the techno 
logical world without importing its ideology. Most people in 
this group became prominent leaders of the Iranian Revolu- 
tion. Bazargan was imprisoned along with oilier nationalist 
leaders in 1963. After the revolution of 1979, he became the 
prime minister of the provisional government. Bazargan <■> as 
later ousted due to the occupation of the American embassy 
and hostage taking by students and his meeting with Brzezinski 
in Algiers. 

See also Iran, Islamic Republic of; Liberation Move- 
ment of Iran; Reform: Iran; Revolution: Islamic Revo- 
lution in Iran. 


Chehabi, H. E. Iranian Pol/thy and Religious Modernism: The 
Liberation Movement of Iran I 'ruler the Shah and Khomeini. 
Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990. 

Mazyar Lotfalian 

Lancaster, William. The Rutila Bedouin Today. Cambridge: 

Cambridge University Press, 1981. 
Lewis, Norman. Nomads and Settlers in Syria and Jordan, 

1800-1980. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. 
uyock, Audi i \nd the I ica / 

tion: Oral Histoi \ md T ' Ami. y in Tribal Jordan. 

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. 


Rochelle Davis 

The Bedouin are nomadic peoples of Arabia known in Arabic 
as bedu, 'arab, and a'rab. They are especially known for 
keeping camels, whose domestication in the third millenium 
made trade and raiding — their main occupations — easier. In 
addition, they keep flocks of sheep and goats, and more 
recently, engage in seasonal agriculture and work in state 
armed forces. Living in long, low lying i slack tents made of 
camel and goat hair and wooden poles, the Bedouin migrate 
on a seasonal basis in search of pasture for their animals. The 
tent and its contents are individual property, but water, 
pasture, and land are the common property of the tribe. 

Every tent represents a family, and an encampment of 

tents hayy constitutes a chin, < >r qaivin. A group of kindred 
clans forms a tribe, ort/abi/a, and 'asabixya is the unconditional 
loyalty of a clansmember to his or her tribe. A weaker tribe 
buys protection by paying die stronger 1 ribe a price khuiva. 

Bedouin have been characterized historically by urban 
Arab writers as vengeful and destructive, finding the agricul 
i re mil rail oi < lent in lil ill tasteful In hi \1 limn 

Il)n Khaldun (1332 1406), die Tunisian philosopher historian, 
hypothesized that civilizations have a predetermined life 
cycle; they fall prey to the nomads in the frontiers whose 
bonds of solidarity ('asabiyya) are strong. However, oth- 
ers have described Bedouins by their well-known values of 
generosity and hospitality and high standards of poetic 

As state power has infringed on Bedouin areas of control, 
moves to settle the Bedouin, to provide schools for children, 
and to employ adults in wage-labor have met with mixed 
success in Egypt, Jordan, Israel/Palestine, and the Arabian 
Gulf states. Bedouin strive to maintain their culture, social 
mores and traditions, while at the same time enjoying the 
benefits of technology, education, and health standards. 

See also Arabia, Pre-Islam; 'Asabiyya; Ibn Khaldun. 


Abu Lughod, Lila Veih i i Berkeley: University of 

California Press, 1986. 

Abu Lughod, Lila. Writing 1 1 'omen 's Worlds. Berkeley: Uni- 
versity of California Press, 1993. 

I. il lint in. Bedouin I I id fheW \ i 

of a Culture. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. 

A bid'a (pi. bids') is an innovation in theology, ritual, or the 
customs of daih life, that did not exist in early Islam but came 
into existence in the course of history. 

The term itself does not appear in the Qur'an, be it that 
the lloh Book includes other derivations of the root bd c . In 
the hadith literature bid'a is often used in contrast with the 
term sunna. In this sense sunna denotes the exemplary stand- 
ard for Muslim life, as this was established by the prophet 
Muhammad and the pious .Muslims of earh Islam; for this 
reason, a bid'a, being a deviation from the normative sunna, 
was almost exclusively i egarded as negative. This idea can be 
found in the canonical collections of hadith literature and, for 
example, was put into words in the Prophetic saying: "The 
worst of all thin re novelties (iiiuhd < en noveltyis 

an innovation (bid'a), and every bid'a is an error (dalala), and 
every error "leads to hell." 

Apart from this negatn e understanding of the concept of 
bid'a, a positive interpretation also e< tuld be given to the term. 
This was done by using another saying from the hadith 
literature. These words are attributed to the second caliph 
'Umar who, after he had seen an innovation in the rite of the 
ritual prayer (salat), is reported to have said: "Truly, this is a 
good bid'a." On the basis of this saving the great jurisconsult 
al-Shafi'i (767-820) made a distinction between good and 
objectionable bid'as. As a result of this, the possibility was 
created to introduce new ideas and practices into Islam for 
which there were no precedents in early Islam, but which 
could now be accepted as good innovations. Later scholars 
further manipulated the term bid'a by adding various oilier 
most often legal, adjectives to it. For example, the prolific 
Egyptian author Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (1445-1505) mentions 
the application of the five legal classifications (al-ahkuiu al 
khamsa) to the term, thus making a distinction between 
"forbidden," "reprehensible," "indifferent," "recommended." 
and "obligatory" bid'as. 

Although this flexible interpretation of the concept of 
bid'a was thus known from an early period onward, various 
later scholars adhered to its negative interpretation exclu- 
sively. A well-known representative of this stream is the 

theologian anil jurisconsult Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya 
(1263-1328), who spent his entire life fighting- bid'as, which 
had been added to the original doctrine and practice of Islam, 
for example, the cult of saints. Under the influence of his 
teachings, Muhammad ibn <Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792) 
founded the rigid and intolerant reform movement known as 
Wahhabiyya, which, for example, regarded the use of tobacco 
,m\a\ coffee an bid'a. This Wahhabi ideology is also followed !u 
the present-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where conse- 
quently the concept of bid'a in its negative sense plays a 
prominent part in religious and social discourse. An interest- 
ing example of this is the official view on the celebration of 
the birthday (annelid) of the prophet Muhammad, an opinion 
that was voiced often by the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom, 
Abd al-'Aziz ibn Baz (1910-1999). This festival is strictly 
forbidden, because it is regarded as a bid'a, "while every bid'a 
is an error." Despite the enormous respect for the Prophet, 
Wahhabis reject celebrating his mawlid because it is rightly 
understood as a later innovation. 

On the whole, however, in present-day Islam only a 

minority adhere to this limited, negative interpretation of the 
concept of bid'a, while the majority of Muslims approves of a 
flexible interpretation, which is more compatible with mod- 
ern beliefs and practices. 

See also Religious Institutions; Sunna. 


Fierro, Maribel. "The Treatises Against Innovations (kutub 

al-bida')." Der Islam 69 (1992): 204-246. 
Goldziher, Ignaz, "Hadith and Sunna." In Vol. 2, Muslim 

Studies (Muh aw 1 1 Edited b ( tern 

Translated by C. R. Barber and S. M. Stern. London: 

Allen &Unwin, 1971. 
Rispler, Vardit. "'Toward a New Understanding of the Term 

bid'a." Der Islam 68 (1991): 320-328. 

NicoJ. G.Kaptein 

BIN LADIN, USAMA (1957- ) 

Usama bin Ladin is a Saudi dissident and leader of the al- 
Oa'ida organization. He was born in 1957 in Saudi Arabia. 
His father, Muhammad bin Ladin, was a Yemeni commoner 
who became a successful building contractor. He moved his 
family to Saudi Arabia in the 1930s, Muhammad sired seven- 
teen sons and established the Saudi Bin Ladin Group, a 
construction firm that eventually won large contracts from 
the Saudi royal family to renovate important icons of Saudi 
and Islamic religion and culture. These included several 
buildings in the cities of Mecca and Medina and many 
mosques, including the al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. 

Usama's mother, one of four wives to Muhammad bin 
Ladin, was from Damascus, S\ ria, Usama has remained close 
to her throughout his life. He married one of his mother's 
Syrian relatives, with whom he had a son. Usama attended 
school in Saudi Arabia where he came under the influence of 
the thought of Muhammad Qutb, the brother of an influen- 
tial Islamist ideologue named Sayyid Qutb and a Jordanian 
activist, Abdallah 'Azzam, who actively recruited Arab Mus- 
lim fighters to mount a jihad against the Soviet military 
occupation of Afghanistan in the early 1980s. That Usama 
bin Ladin visited and lived for a while in Europe has been 
reported by some writers, but it is unclear when that might 
have been, where he actually lived in Europe, or what he did 
while he was there. 

After the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan in 1979, bin 
Ladin went to Pakistan. There he met several leaders of jihadi 
movements who were mounting resistance efforts against the 
Russians on behalf of the Afghani Muslims. He joined forces 
will) 'Abdallah Azzam to recruit nun Afghani Muslims, mainly 
Arabs, and to raise money and purchase weapons for an 
armed resistance against the Soviet military. After aUQa'ida's 
growth and success, the two men had a falling out that led to 
the assassination of 'Azzam. Usama's considerable inherited 
« ealth (estima ted at between $270 and $500 million) from his 
father formed an important material contribution to this 
effort against the Soviets. According to several sources, an- 
other significant element in support of Ira bin ilitia resistance 
in Afghanistan (alleged and never denied) was money from 
the United States, channeled through the Central Intelli- 
gence Agency (C.I. A.) 

Usama bin Ladin will not be remembered as a religious 
scholar or intellectual in the Muslim world. He nonetheless 
has attracted a considerable following, first of niiijakidin 
(guerilla) lighters against real and perceived enemies of Islam, 
such as the Soviet military and the U.S. In addition he has 
gained passive appn >val and \ erbal support for his cause more 
widelj among Muslims around the world — many of whom 
openly disavow the terrorism and violence that is attributed 
to his leadership even while providing such support. Bin 
Ladin's « tilings include poetn and coauthored treatises anil 
statements that use code words anil symbols (such as refer- 
ences to Crusaders and Jews) to express opposition to the 
State of Israel, European Christendom, and the United 
$tates, especially their respective control of and military 
encroachment on the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, Mecca, 
and Medina. 

Bin .Ladin's, theological worldview follows the Salafi and 
Wahhabi puritanical interpretation and expression of Islam, 
as well as the trenchant articulation of this strain of Islam 

prov ided by the Egyptian dissident intellectual. Sayyid (Jutb. 
Some observers have argued that although the fallen Soviet 
Union, the United States, and the globalization of capitalism 

ography and Hagic 

were the spectacular targets of bin Ladin's active career, in 
fact it is accommodationisi Muslim regimes (like his native 
Saudi Arabia) that rely on U.S. and Western support that 
have been the real targets of his a 

Sec also Fundamentalism; Jihad; Qa'ida, al-; Qutb, 
Sayyid; Terrorism; Wahhabiyya. 


( ; una ra U la . R< > h an. Inside . 1 1 Quedii : Glob ill Network of Ten 
New York: Columbia University Press, 2002. 

Richard C. Martin 


Islamic civilization from an early period gave importance to 
various biographical genres, for example, the life (sira) of the 
Prophet, works establishing priority in joining the Muslim 
community, and lives of saints, but rarely, until the modern 
period, autobiographies. 

Particularly important is the relationship between early 
biography and the hadith collections. The ' ilm id rijiil, or 
"science of the men." was a branch of Islamic historiography 
verifying the reliability (ta'dil) of hadith transmitters accord- 
ing to criteria such as their direct acquaintance with the 
Prophet and their veracity and virtues. The qualities 1 1 i 

and special merits (khasa'is) of important persons constitute a 
subsection of most hadith collections and reveal early Muslim 
concepts of charisma, character, or religious authority. An- 
other hadith topic that blossomed into a genre of biographi- 
cal literature is asceticism (zubd). Compilations on this subject 
provide insights into the early development of Sufism and 
how ascetic behaviors established rankings of merit and 

Muslim religious biography and hagiography were com 
posed in specific genres. One of the most important bio- 
graphical forms is the tabaqat (ranks or classes). This name 
refers to the system for the arrangement of biographical 
notices according to notions of contiguitj , rank, or virtue. 
The earliest extant example is the Khali til tabaqat al-kabir of 
Ibn Sa c d (d. 845), which contains some 4,250 biographical 
notices of men and women of the first Islamic generations. 
The inclusion of ordinary persons in the classic al biographi 
cal dictionaries indicates how the history of the Islamic 
community was understood in this period as being consti- 
tuted, to a large extent, by the contribution of individuals to 
building tip and transmitting its specific worldview and culture. 

The telling of lives in traditional Islamic biographical 
forms does not present a series of events or cumulative 

reflections as contributing to character development. Rather, 
biographical notices serve to establish origins and display a 
person's type or example through presenting his or her 
discrete actioi nd i Mi*- qat genre, which is most 

popular in Arabic, might focus on certain religious profes- 
sions such as thr biogi iphies ol ]i|. i i ji Ige (Jair'an recitei 
and memorizers, or Sufis. Other ttibaqtit works chronicle 
individuals from a particular city or region, and some repre- 
sent "centennial"' biographies that record all prominent Mus- 
lims who died in a particular Islamic century. 

Tadhkira (memorial) works are collections of the lives of 
persons engaged in scholarh or religious acth ities. They are 
more common in later periods, especially in Iran, the Otto- 
man Empire, and South Asia. 

Malfuzat are records of audiences of notable scholars or 
Sufis. This genre is indigenous to South Asian Islam where 
the early Indian Sufis are known largely through records 
preserved in tins form. Malfuzat as a biographical genre often 
provides a more spontaneous, authentic flavor of the person 
and his circle in contrast to the more idealized portrayals of 
th ' In li d i ] in i nun- / i p! md 

autobiographies were less common in earlier periods al- 
though a small number may be found, Notable is al ( mazali's 
Delhi \ , o, i Error (d. 1111) a narrative of his spiritual 
search for truth. One should not neglect to mention the 
biographical significance of other related genres, for exam- 
ple, letters and travel accounts, such as those of the famous 
Ibn Battuta (1304-1369). 

In the medieval period bio- or autobiographical notices 
were sometimes prefaced or appended to a scholar's works 

and read like a curriculum \ itae. that included the individual's 
teachers, places visited, and works studied, transmitted, or 
composed. Medieval .Muslim autobiography and biography 
often featured accounts of dreams or visionary experiences 
indicating that the tradition considered such events as impor- 
tant and meaningful. 

More recently, Western literature has influenced bio- 
graphical and autobiographical writing in many Islamic so 
cieties. In South Asia innovations in the tradition of religious 
biography were related to the development of Urdu as a 
modern prose language in the late nineteenth century and to 
efforts to combine islamic and "modern" learning embodied 
in the Aligarb movement. Most significant among this trend 
are the writings of Shibli Nu'mani (1857-1914), who pre- 
pared a series of monographs on "Heroes of Islam" including 
studies of the caliph c Umar, the jurist Abu Hanifa, the poet 
Rumi, and the theologian al Ghazali, as well as the Prophet. 
Thisnew style of biography was marked by critical evaluation 
and a rationalist treatment of the subject. 

As the forces of westernization have increasingly pene- 
trated many Muslim societies, the canons of modern litera- 
ture have tended to favor the novel, short story, and poetry 

written in free verse over traditional biographical forms. 
With the decline in the popularity of Sufism, the audience for 
collective memorials and devotional biographies has also 
decreased. In most regions the traditional Islamic biographi- 
cal forms have declined in importance as secular, literary life 
stories take precedence and may provide inspiration for 
serialization as televised historical dramas. 

Rotled, Ruth. Women in him/tic Biographical Collections: from 
Ibn Sa'd to Who's Who. Boulder, Colo.: L. Rienner Pub- 
lishers, 1994. 

Marcia Hervitinseii 

Traditional genres of religious biography still persist in 
religious contexts and in more traditional segments of Mus- 
lim societies. In the modern period, however, a number of 
new developments have occurred. Among the most striking 
are: an increased use of religious biography for personal 
edification; its use in reinforcing symbols of national or 
regional identity; and its functioning to inspire or legitimate 
political action and Islamist identifications. 

For example, in Iranian Shi'ism the lives of the imams 
have been a source of inspired poetry and performances of 
commemoration. A significant and instructive trend in their 
modern use is that during the prerevolutionary period in Iran, 
thefocusofllusayn's biograpln shifted from his role as tragic- 
martyr to portraying him as an acth ist challenging the unjust 
social order. 

The role of females also receives increased 
Traditional Muslim scholars now present early Muslim lie 
roic women in ways that honor their contributions to Islamic 
history while reinforcing traditional patterns of female be- 
havior. In contrast, the Moroccan feminist historian hatima 
Mernissi has presented a revisionist look at the lives of a 
number of prominent early Muslim women that attempts to 
recover their independence of action and defiance of sup- 
posed cultural norms. Zaynab al-Ghazali, a contemporary 
Egyptian activist in the Muslim Brotherhood, offered her 
prison memories in Hayati (My life) in the form of a heroic 
narrative with hagiographic undertones. Islamist aulobiogra 
phies and convert narratives of American and European 
Muslims open up further possibilities for hybridization in 
biographical s 

See also Arabic Literature 


Genealogy; Historical 

Ilermansen, Marcia "Interdisciplinary Approaches to Islamic 
Biographical Materials." Religion 18, no. 4 (1988): 163-182. 

Lawrence. Bruce 1 / ' / 

Literature of Pre Mughal Indian Snjism. Tehran: Imperial 
Iranian Academy of Philosophy, 1978. 
lalti Dougia ['etlv Medi ' it: Female I i i 

Sacred Geogiaphn ' t n Berkeley: Uni- 

versity of California, 2001. 

Mojaddedi, Jaw id. Sufi Biographies from Al Salami to "/ami: 
Reworking Time Past. Richmond, Va.: Curzon, 2000. 

BIRUNI, AL-(C. 973-1050) 

Al-Biruni was a polymath of the Islamic eleventh century who 
wrote in multiple scientific fields. Included among his sub- 
jects were astronomy, mathematics, pharmacology, and min 
eralogy, and he also contributed important works of history 
and cultural studies. 

Al-Biruni originated from the region of Khwarazm, and 
his name refers to the fact that he was born in a suburb of the 
capital. Although Persian, he preferred to write in Arabic. 
When Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna conquered Khwarazm in 
1017, al-Biruni was taken as a prisoner to his capital. He 
became the court astrologer and then accompanied Mahmud 
on his expeditions to northwestern India. This led al-Biruni 
to study Sanskrit and Indian religions and customs, which he 
recoi led in Kital 'til i I ' did) His writ- 

ings include significant observations on the natural features, 
social structure, and religious practices of the non-Muslim 
Indians. He was a prolific author of some 180 works of 
varying lengths, including many important treatises on mathe- 
matical and astronomical topics. 

See also Astronomy; Historical Writing; Knowledge; 
Science, Islam and. 


Biruni, al-. AlberunFs India. Translated by Eduard Sachau. 
London: Keegan Paul, 1910. 

Marcia Hermansen 


The body is the locus of human existence and activity in 
Islam, islamic law stipulates die regular purification of the 
body, requires the use of a body in performing rituals, and 
views the body as the site of both social continuity and 
punishment in the case of violating social norms. 

Purification and renunciation of the body are required for 
both men and women in Islamic law. Ritual purification 
involves washing and wiping certain parts of the body, and is 
invalidated In natural bodily emissions (urine, feces, pus, 

ourghiba, Habib 

blood, vomit), sleep, unconsciousness, insanity, and sexual 
contact. Most jurists also agree that touching one's genitals 
(penis, vagina, anus) also invalidates purification. The ritual 
fast during the month of Ramadan requires keeping sub- 
stances from entering the body (food, drink, medicine) and 
abstinence from sex. 

although some authorities also include in this the female 
voice. Crimes such as theft require the amputation of limbs 
(hands and feet), and other crimes such .is fornication require 
death by stoning under cer 

See also Circumcision; Gender; 'Ibadat. 

The body is also of symbolic importance for the rites of 
the pilgrimage to Mecca. While in the sanctuary at Mecca 
pilgrims are not allowed to eat the meat of wild animals or 
plants. Pilgrims are not allowed to have sex, and marriages 
performed during the pilgrimage are invalid. Nor are pil- 
grims allowed to wear sewn clothing or apply perfume to 
their bodies. The hair and fingernails oi pilgrims cannot be 
cut during the pilgrimage but are cut upon exiting from the 
sanctuaryattheendofthepil hum < Ian I issical sources 
report that the prophet Muhammad distributed his hair and 
fingernails, cut at the end of his last pilgrimage, to his 
followers as relics. 

Islamic law recognizes the body as the legal sphere of the 
individual. The "private area" ('urwah), the area which must 
be covered in public, is defined differently for men and 
women. For men it is the area between the waist and the 
knees, for women it is the area from the neck to the ankles, 


Katz, Marion Holmes. Body of Text: The Emergence of the 
Sunni Law of Ritual Punts. Albany: State University of 
New York Press, 2002. 

Reinhart, Kevin A. "Impurity/No Danger." History ofRelig 
ions 30 (1990-1991): 1-24. 

Zaitnad, Traki. Les lieux dii corps en Islam. Pans: Publisnd, 1994. 

Bninnon M. II 'heeler 

BOURGHIBA, HABIB (1901-2000) 

Habib Bourghiba was the most prom ineiil leader of Tunisia's 
Neo-Destour movement, which led that country to indepen 
dence from France in 1956. Born into a middle-class family of 

limited resources at Monastir in 1901, Bourghiba was edu- 
cated at the prestigious Sadiqi College and at the Lycee 
Carnot in Tunis; subsequently he earned a law degree at the 
University of Paris. After returning to Tunisia in the mid- 
192 0s, he became increasingly involved in the Destour 
(constitutionalist) movement, which was seeking Tunisia's 
autonomy from France. By the 1930s he broke with its 
leadership, which he considered too socially and religiously 
conservative, and founded the Neo-Destour party, which 
tended toward secular and liberal nationalism. 

Once independence came, however, he transformed the 
Neo Destour party — later the Destourian Socialist Party — 
into a ruling single pan v. This action allowed him to gam and 
maintain a tight grip over the Tunisian political process for 
three decades. lie was elected three times « itltout opposition 
to the presidency, ultimately becoming president for life in 
1974. In the meantime, the economy stagnated or declined 
and the gap between the and the masses widened, 
not only materially, but also culturally. Various Islamist 
groups arose in a protest movement appealing to traditional 
religious values. In November 1987, with Bourghiba's physi 
cal and mental health clearly deteriorating, he was deposed In 
the sitting Prime Minister Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. Habib 
Bourghiba died in his native city of Monastir. 

See also Modernization, Political: Constitutionalism; 
Secularism, Islamic. 


Murphy, Emma C. Economic and Political Change in 1 
sin: from Botirgtiiba to Ben Ali. New York: St. Mar 
Press, 1999. 

John R/iciiv 


Conventional terms for the political entities in Central Asia 
were ruled by the khans of the Shibani-Abulkhayrid (1500 to 
1598), the Toqay-Timurid (1598 to the late 18th century) 
families, and the emirs of the Uzbek Manghit tribe (1785 to 
1920). The core territories of the khanate and emirate were 
the string of oases along the course of the river Zarafshan 
with the cities Bukhara anil Samarkand. During most of the 
sixteenth to mid-eighteenth centuries, Tashkent and Balkh 
also belonged to the Bukharan dominions. 

In 1500, Muhammad Shibani drove the Timurids from 

Transoxania and conquered a territory reaching from Tashkent 
to Khwarazm and Khurasan. Shibani, a descendant of Gen- 
ghis Khan through his grandson Shiban, had served Timurid 

and Chaghaun riders during the las; decades of the fifteenth 
century. The principal source of Muhammad Shibani's au- 
thority was his claim of descent from Genghis Khan. He 
derived additional authority from the fact that his grandfa 
ther, Abu '1-Khayr, had ruled a large confederation of Turco- 
Mongol tribes in Western Siberia known as the Uzbeks. But 
Muhammad Shibani also propagated Islamic legitimacy by 
adopting the title of caliph. 

Sovereignty in the extended Shibanid Abulkhayrid family 
was corporate, embodied in the sultans (agnatic princes who 
traced their descent from Abu '1-Khayr thr< >ugh their father's 
lineage) under the overall khanship of Muhammad Shibani. 
The khan distributed the conquered territories as appanages 
(land grants) among the eligible Abulkhayrid princes. The 
crisis following the unexpected death of Muhammad Shibani 
Khan in battle against Sal acid Oizilbash troops (1510) led to a 
major reorganization of rule. A short pi in er struggle between 
the leaders of the major Abulkhayrid clans was resolved in a 
general meeting < ■ Hi it) i onvened in 1512 in Samarkand. 
Supreme sovereignty as khan was from then on nominally 
assigned to the senior Abulkhayrid agnate. 

The appanages became hereditary dominions. The prin- 
cipal appanages, each dominated by one of the Abulkhayrid 
cousin clans, were Bukhara, Samarkand. Tashkent, and 
Miyankal (the region between Samarkand and Bukhara). In 
1526 Balkh and the lands between the Hindu Kush and the 
River Amu were regained and allotted to the Jani-Beg clan. 
This appanage system remained relatively stable until the 
mid-century, when unclear succession in Bukhara triggered 
open interclan conflict. Abdallah II, a member of the Jani- 
Beg clan, eventually established himself in Bukhara in 1557 
and gradually expanded his domination over the other 
Abulkhaj rid appanages. Abdallah took residence in Bukhara 
and initiated large-scale urban development projects. 

The political process of electing a supreme khan on the 

basis of seniority and distributing the territory as appanages 
to the eligible junior mem hers of the royal clan was continued 
by the Toqay Timurids, another clan that claimed descent 
from Genghis Khan arid took over in the secession crisis thai 
followed the death of Abdallah's son in 1 598. The number of 
appanages was reduced to two: Bukhara, the residence of the 
supreme khan and capital of the northern and central territo- 
ries of the khanate, and Balkh, the center of the areas south 
of the Amu. 

The military backbone of Abtilkhay rid and Toqay Timurid 
rule were the Uzbek emirs, leaders of the Turco-Mongol 
nomadic tribal groups w ho had brought Muhammad Shibani 
to power. They gradually merged with the old ruling class of 
Timurid Central Asia. The hierarchy of the emirs s) mboli 
calk followed a pattern of military tribal organization that is 
thought to date back to the army of ( ienghis Khan. However, 

The Kalyan Minaret, built circa 1127, in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. The 
emirate of Bukhara was abolished in 1920 when its last amir, 
c Alim, went into exile during the occupation of the city by Russian 
revolutionary troops. © Diego Lezama Orezzoli/Corbis 

this does not mean that the Uzbek emirs were a closed group, 
nor that they were restricted to military duty. The borderline 
between military and civil administration was to some extent 
fluid. Service in the civil administration appears to have been 
an integral part of an emir's career. 

On the other hand, high ch il officials of nontribal back- 
ground could enter the ranks of the emirs. Until the mid- 
eighteenth century, the highest offices were the maliq, the 
' ' j inti the hakim. The , '//>/ (pi in< < h tutoi I eern to 
have sen ed as military administrative counselor and a liaison 
between the khan and the sultans. Hakims served as gover- 
nors of territorial subunits of the appanages. The divanbegi 
was the head of the fiscal administration. However, to what 
extent this title (and others of lower rank) matched well- 
defined administrative duties or rather were nominal ranks is 
difficult to determine. The high ranks of religious offices 
were filled by members of a limited number of families of 
noble descent I yyiil butt I, the most noleworlb beingthi 
Juybari khivajas. 

The emirs were compensated for their services by assign- 
ments of pastureland and the revenues from villages. Origi- 
nally given to an individual and frequently redistributed, 
these grants tended to become hereditary, and as a result 
certain emiriil clans and their tribal lollowings became closely 
linked to defined territories. The Manghit tribal group thus 
came to dominate the oasis of Bukhara and the pasturelands 
around Qarshi. 

The growing imbalance between the authority of the khan 
and the tribal leaders resulted in a radical change in the crisis 
that followed the temporary surrender of the khan ofBukhara 
to Nadir Shah in 1740. The ataliq Muhammad Rahim, an 
emir of the Manghit clan, was able to assume power in 
Bukhara and e\ en to adopt the title khan in 1756. His cousin 
Shah Murad (1785-1800) abolished the khanate and ruled 
with the caliphal title amir til ma'miiiiii (Commander of the 
Faithful), thus lending his nonregal status additional Islamic 

The transition from the neo-Chinggisid khanate to the 
Manghit emirate can be characterized by two major develop 
ments: The legitimation of rule was now Islamic rather than 
based on descent from Genghis Khan, and the power of the 
noil Manghit Uzbek emirs was si sternaticalh reduced. The 
Manghit emirs of Bukhara created a small standing army and 
so were aide in become largely independent of tribal military 
support. The connection of military resources and access to 
regional revenues that had always made the Uzbek emirs a 
potential threat to the rulers's authority was gradually dis- 
solved. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the 
emirate of Bukhara appears to have become a fairly central 
ized state. The emirate was governed through a complex 
military civil bureaucraq headed by a chief minister called 
The territory was divided into provinces (twenty- 
seven in 19 15) which in turn consisted of fiscal administrative 
units. The oasis of Bukhara was under direct administration, 
while the other prov inces were governed by officials called beks. 

Already during the reign of the emir Nasrallah (1826-1860) 
the emirate felt the incipient impact of the conflicting imperi- 
alistic interests of Russia and Britain. In 1868, the emir 
Muzaffar al-Din (1860-1885) had to accept the annexation of 
the eastern part of his dominions, including Samarkand, by 
tsarist Russia. The so-called friendship treaty between the 
governor general of Russian Turkestan and the emir of 
Bukhara in 1873 sealed the emirate's loss of independence. 
Though nominally still a sovereign state, the emirate was 
gradually integrated into the sphere of influence of the 
Russian Empire. In 1920, Russian revolutionary troops occu 
pied Bukhara. The last emir, c Alim (r. 1910-1920), went into 
exile and the emirate was abolished. 

A photo of tin bed i n , e Mi Irab Madrasa 
appears in the volume one color plates. 

See also Central Asia, Islam in; Central Asian Culture 
and Islam. 


Becker, Seymour. J / / 

and Khiva, 1865-1924. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, 1968. 

McChesiiey, Robert D Ci 'I I hi is of Chan 
1, N.J.: Darwin Press, 1996. 

Florian Schwarz 

BUKHARI, AL- (810-870) 

Muhammad b. Ismail al-Bukhari, who was born in Bukhara 
in central Asia, compiled the most important hadith collec- 
tion in Sunni Islam, called al Jami al sahih (The sound 

collection). Al Bnkhari is said to have started to learn hadiths 
("'the sayings" of the prophet Muhammad) at about ten years 
of age, having been blessed with a remarkably retentive 
memory and a sharp intellect. At the age of sixteen, he made 
the pilgrimage and traveled to Mecca, ;m\<\ Medina to study 
with well-known hadith teachers there. He next went to 
Egypt, and spent the following sixteen years traveling through 
much of Asia in the pious pursuit of hadiths. On his return to 
Bukhara, he began to scrutinize the roughly 600,000 reports 
lie had collected, lie is said to have applied the most stringent 
standards in determining the reliability of these reports, 
which led him to record only about 7,397 of them. His 
painstaking effort resulted in tin 'ahih. which by the tenth 
century had achieved near universal recognition among Mus- 
lims, who regarded al Bukhari's collection as including the 
most reliable and sound hadiths attributed to the Prophet, 
based particularly on analysis of their chains of transmission. 
The Sahih continues to enjoy an almost "canonical" status 
today, second only to the Qur'an in importance as the source 
for moral and legal prescriptions. The standard edition in use 

todaywas prepared by Alib. Muhammad al Yunini(d. 1302). 
Numerous commentaries have been written on the Sahih; in 
recent times, partial and complete translations of this collec- 
tion have been made in a number of languages. Al-Bukhari 
died in his hometown of Bukhara at age sixty. 

See also Hadith. 


Rauf, Muhammad Abdul. "Hadith Literature." In Vol. 1, 
Arabic Literature to the End of the Unm\\ad Period. Edited 
by A. F. L. Beeston, et al. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge 
University Press, 1983. 

Robson,James. "al-Bukhari." In Vol. I, Em I ' 

Edited by H. A. R. Gibb, et al. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1960. 

A sma Afsaruddin 


In sura 17:1 of the Qur'an, the prophet Muhammad, led by 
the angel Gabriel, journeys in one night (israq') to "the Far 
Distant Place of Worship," interpreted as Jerusalem. In the 
hadith, Muhammad continues on to the heavens (mi'raf), 
describing his mount as a small white steed, called al-Buraq. 
Later literary and art-historical traditions give al-Buraq a 
human face, wings, and dappled coloration. This miraculous 
steed is depicted in the fourteenth-century world history of 
Rashiduddin, the fifteenth-century Timurid Mi'rajname, and 
sixteenth-cem i il id Kl. >( \izami. Buraq's impor- 

tance continues today, appearing in Sunni paintings com- 
memorating a hajj to Mecca, or in Shi'ile popular art, which 
I n ho I Bmj q alongside Hi n's ho t Karbal 

See also Mi'raj; Tasawwuf. 

Car el Bertram 


The foundations of present-day Cairo rest upon the ancient 
capital of Memphis, one of the ol< ements in the 

world, which flourished between 5000 and 2500 b.c.e. Mem- 
phis was finally surpassed by the seaport of Alexandria when 
ean colony of the Greeks, but its 
strategic position ensured continuous settlement. As a result, 
the city was still thriving at the time of the Roman conquest 
around 24 b.c.e. Although the region was contested by the 
Romans and Persians at the opening of the seventh century 
c.e., it was finally the Arabs who prevailed, thereby setting 
into motion the genesis of Cairo or al-Qahira, The Victori- 
ous City, as it is still referred to in Arabic. Cairo would in time 
grow into one of the most important religious, cultural, and 
political centers of the Muslim world. 

The urban centers that spl lamic civilization 

surfaced from either army camps, that eventually developed 
into permanent cities, or princely towns established to com- 
w dynasties and to affirm their authority. Cairo 
ived out of an amalgamation of such regions, in 
which an army camp settlement fused with the princely 
centers established at its periphery. As such, the successive 
stages of Cairo's genesis also capture the histories of her past 

In 640 c.e. the forces of th ab general 'Amr 

ibn al-'As reached what is present-day Cairo. He set up camp 
there and established the first mosque in Africa, which still 
stands and is one of the most important religious icons of 
Cairo today. The settlement itself came to be known as 
Fustat, which simply means "entrenchment," and eventually 
developed into a burgeoning city. The first major dynastic 
shift in the Muslim empire left its mark upon the Egyptian 
landscape as lasid victory over the Ummayads 

in 750 c.e. gave rise to the princely town of al- c Askar (the 
Cantonment). In the century that followed the communities 
of Fustat and al Askar fused to form a combined settlement 

stretching along the axis of the Nile River. The atmosphere 
of growing provincial autonomy in the period that followed 
fueled the ambitions of Ahmad ibn Tulun, a man of Turkish 
extraction appointed as deputy for the governor of Egypt. He 
founded his own princely city slightly to the north of al- 
c Askar in 870 c.e., which was called al-Qata'i' (the Wards), 
reflecting its feudal base. The awesome mosque of Ibn Tulun, 
built between 876 and 878, is one of the most prominent 
legacies inherited from that era and still stands, surrounded 
by the crowded metropolis of today. 

The most significant event in the genesis of Cairo is 
undoubtedly the rise of the ShFite Fatimid dynasty in Tunisia 
at the beginning of the tenth century. The 
reached its full expression on Egyptian soil and it was its 
fourth caliph, Mu'izz al-Din, who gained sovereignty over 
the area in 96 iwhar led the campaign 

and almost it ; out the walls of a new 

palace city after his arrival. The city was initially called al- 
Mansuriyya but was renamed al-Qahira al-Mu c izziyya four 
years later, to commemorate and celebrate the arrival of the 
caliph. With the coming of Mu'izz al-Din, Cairo or al- 
Qahirah was formally inducted into world history. 

Al-Qahirah was developed into a city of lavish beauty and 
intellectual vitality under the Fatimids. But the city remained 
largely inaccessible to common people from areas like Fustat, 
who could only enter the royal enclosure by special permit. 
Ironically, the al-Azhar University, which is today recognized 
as one of the most important intellectual centers of Sunni 
Islam, was established by the Fatimids to promote their 
Shi'ite doctrine. 

The closing of the eleventh century marked the beginning 
of the first Crusade and also the decline of the Fatimid 
dynasty. In the period between 1 164 and 1 169 Cairo became 
a pawn in the power struggle between the Seljuks of Syria and 
the Christian forces in Jerusalem. Although still nominally 
ruled by the Fatimids, true control of the city eventually fell 

A 1996 aerial view of Cairo and the Nile River. Cairo evolved at 
the site of the ancient city of Memphis, one of the first urban 
settlements, dating from 5000 b.c.e. In the tenth century c.e., the 
Shi'ite Fatimid dynasty built a palace city called al-Qahira al- 
Mu'izziyya. Al-Qahira, or Cairo, was at that time a walled, beauti- 
ful city inaccessible to non-royals from outlying areas. Entry to the 
royal area was granted with special permission. © Thomas Hartwell/ 
Corbis SABA 

into the hands of the young Sunni governor Saladin (Salahal- 
Din) al-Ayyubi, sent to defend Cairo against the Crusader 
campaigns. Saladin in time established the Ayyubid dynasty 
and even reconquered Jerusalem. His mercurial rise contrib- 
uted once again to the further transformation of Cairo. 
Under him, the mosque of Amr was restored and al-Azhar 
University was purged of its Shi'ite bias. A madrasa (school) 
was founded at the tomb of Imam al-Shafi c i soon after the 
Ayyubid conquest of Egypt and a mausoleum commemoral 
ing the great imam is still in existence today. But Saladin's 
most important and long-lived addition to the city was the 
Citadel, built for him in 1176 as a place of refuge and 
continuously expanded upon h\ later generations. 

By the fourteenth century Cairo was recognized as a world 

capital, reaching its zenith under the Alamluks. Cairo's great 
est growth and de\ elopment took -place in litis period, h) spite 
of constant forays against the Crusaders and Mongols, the 
Mamluk rulers still devoted energies to the development of 

the city. For example, Sultan Qalawun erected his famous 
hospital in the heart of the city during this era. Although the 
Cairo of the fifteenth century still surpassed any European 
city in terms of urban development and population, this 
period also marks the beginning of its decline. Cairo's eco- 
nomic prosperity was reduced considerably due to Vasco da 
(Jama ui e nil rcuinnavigalion of Africa and his arrival 
in India in 1498. The East-West ( )riental spice trade with 
Europe, which passed through Egypt, was thereby severed, 
stranding Cairo in a bai l iter of the rapid! cli nging lobal 
map. Not even the Ottomans, who finally ousted the Mamluks 
in 1517, were able to hamper the city's downward spiral. 

The modernizing reforms instituted by Isma c il Pasha in 
the late nineteenth century ultimately breathed life back into 
Cairo. These reforms ironically were inspired by the urban 
developments of modern day Europe. Cairo is today the 

largest metropolis in the Middle East and is now being stilled 
by overurbanization resulting from overcentralization. This 

is but the latest challenge facing the City Victorious. Having 

always been at the forefront of Arab and Islamic trends, it is a 
challenge to which Cairo nil! surely rise. 

See also Sultanates: Ayyubids; Sultanates: Ghaznavid; 
Sultanates: Mamluk; Sultanates: Seljuk. 


Abu-Lughod, Janet. Cairo: 1001 Years of the City Victorious. 

Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1971. 
Ibrahim, Saad Eddin; Sobhi, Hoda M; and El-Ahwal, Abdel 

K. "Problems of Over-Urbanization: The Case of Cairo." 

In The Middle East City: Ancient Traditions Confront a 

Modern World. Edited by Abdulaziz Y. Saqqaf. New York: 

Paragon House Publisher, 1987. 
in hell I in ml i ' ising Egypt. New York: Cambridge 

University Press, 1988. 
Raymond, Andre. "Cairo." In The Modern Middle East. Edited 

by Albert Hourani; Philip S. Khoury; and Mary C. Wilson. 

London: I. B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 1993. 
Rodenbeck, Max. Cain 

dor, 1998. 
Rogers, J. M. "Al-Kahira." In The Encyclopaedia oj Mam. 

Edited by E. Van Donzel; B. Lewis; and Ch. Pellat. 

Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1978. 

Aslam Farouk-Alli 

The City Victorious. London: Pica- 


In classical and medieval Islamic history and juristic theory, 
the Arabic term khilafa, of which "caliphate™ is the anglicized 
form, denotes the political headship of the Muslim commu- 
nity. The term khalifa which is used in the Qur'an with 
reference to Adam (2:30) and David (38:26), besides seven 
other occurrences in the plural — is understood in Sunni 

juristic theory as the successor of the prophet Muhammad. 
The position of the caliph is the most central of all political 
institutions in the history of classical Islam, and issues per- 
taining to the legitimacy of those occupying this office, the 
scope of its powers, and the theoretical and practical accom- 
modations forced upon it during the course of its long career 
are central to the political and religious history of Islam. 

History of the Institution 

Sunni Muslims believe that Muhammad did not appoint 
anyone to succeed him on his death. According to this view, 
which has also been generally adopted by modern scholars of 
early Islamic history, a number of the companions ofMuharn 
1 ii i congi < ,i d in Medina immediately after his death to 
deliberate on the question of his succession. At this meeting, 
Abu Bakr, a member of Muhammad's tribe of Quraysh and 
one of the most influential of his companions, was elected as 
the first caliph. The succession was soon recognized by the 
other companions, including Ah, the initially recalcitrant 
cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, who was later to 
become the focus of the legitimist claims of the Shi'a. The 
latter's view of Muhammad's succession is squarely at odds 
with that of the Sunnis. To them. Muhammad had, in fact, 
designated a successor in the person of c Ali, and most of the 
companions of the Prophet were culpable for subverting this 
explicit testament, as indeed were the successors of the first- 
generation Muslims for their continued denial of the claims 
of 'Ali's descendants, the imams, to the political and religious 
headship of Islam. 

As the rival Shi'ite and Sunni perspectives on early Islam — 
and especially on the locus of legitimate authority after 
Muhammad suggest, there are competing, often irreconcil- 
able, narratives that comprise the history and historiography 
of the early caliphate. In the form that these and other 
narratives have come down to the present day, they are also 
relatively late (with the earliest extant sources on the caliphate 
dating from the 9th century), and their content and structure 
often reveal considerable instability in how they were trans- 
mitted or variously rearranged by different hands before, 
and even after, being committed to writing. Earh Islamic 
historiography may provide rich clues to the controversies on 
questions ol religious and political authority during the first 
centuries of Islam, but it does not serve well as a reliable guide 
to the history of the caliphate. Yet, if sources do not lend 
themselves to a detailed reconstruction of the careers of 
individual caliphs during Islam's first two centuries or more, 
modern scholars generally agree that even the tendentiousness 
of the extant accounts d( pes allow an overview of the caliphate's 
history along something like the following lines. 

The caliphate of Abu Bakr (632-634), which signified the 

continuation of the polin that Muhammad had founded in 
Medina, was challenged by a number of tribes in the Arabian 
Peninsula.. The}' had acknowledged Muhammad's authority 
by embracing Islam and sending tribute to Medina, but 

several of them now refused to continue their tributary status, 
and some renounced allegiance to the new faith as well. Abu 
Bakr's first challenge was to subdue these rebellious tribes to 
secure the future of the nascent caliphate. The armies he sent 
against them did not stop at reasserting Medina's authority, 
however, but embarked on an extraordinarily daring path of 
conquests outside the Arabian Peninsula. Muhammad had 
already led campaigns in the Syrian desert, and Muslim 
armies now began operations simultaneously in the Byzan- 
af Syria and Palestine and in the Sassanian 
. The degree to which the conquest of the Byzan- 
tine and Sassanian territories was the result ol careful plan 
ning or coordination from Medina is uncertain; yet by the 
time Abu Bakr died (634), two years after the death of 
Muhammad, the earh Islamic stale was already on its way to 
becoming a major world empire. 

The beginnings of the administrative organization of the 
caliphate are credited to Abu Bakr's immediate successor, 
c Umar ibn al-Khattab (r. 634-644). He created a military 
register (diwan) for the payment of the troops and for the 
disbursement of pensions to other members of the Muslim 
community. It was in his reign that the first garrison towns 
were established in the conquered lands, a system of taxation 
was put in place, and efforts were made to minimize tiie social 
and economic disruptions inherent in this rapid conquest. Yet 
it was not just the conquered people but also the new 
conquerors who had to cope with the changes set in motion 
by the expansion of the Medinan state. Entire tribes came to 
settle in the newly acquired territories, and, quite apart from 
such rivalries as they may have brought with them from their 
earlier environs, new grievances and conflicts were provoked 
by the competing claims of those who had converted to Islam 
early or late (which determined the share of one's stipends), 
by the unfamiliar demands of the nascent state on its subjects, 
and by the conduct and policies of the caliph or his agents. 

Such resentments came to the surface in the reign of 
'Uthman ibn 'Affan (r. 644-656), the third successor of 
Muhammad, who was eventually murdered in Medina by 
disaffected Arab tribesmen from the garrisons of Kufa, Basra, 
and Egypt. The murder of TJthman inaugurated the series of 
bitter conflicts within the Muslim community that are collec- 
tively known as thefitna — a highly evocative term suggesting 
a time of temptation and trial, dissension, and chaos. This 
civil war, Islam's first, was to continue throughout the reign 
of 'Uthman's successor, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (r. 656-661), and 
it ended only with the latter's assassination and the rise of the 
Umayyad dynasty (r. 661-750). The events of these years 
were debated by Muslims for centuries: It is to these events 
that later Muslims looked in explaining and arguing over 
their sectarian divisions, some of which were to prove perma- 
nent. Even in later centuries, it was never easy to explain how 
the first community of believers, formed by the Prophet's 
own guidance, had fallen into such turmoil so soon after 
his death. 

The Umayyads. Like their predecessors, the Umayyads too 
were members of the Quraysh tribe. Unlike their predeces- 
sors, all four of whom came, after much controversy, to be set 
apart from subsequent rulers and to be revered by Sunni 
Muslims as the Rashidun, the "rightly guided"' caliphs, the 
rise of the Umayy ads marked the establishment of a caliphal 
dynasty. Mu'awiya (r. 661-680), the founder of this dynast) . 
based his rule on careful cultivation and manipulation of ties 
with tribal notables (ashraf), and it was through such ties that 
he was able not just to govern but also to have his son, Yazid I 
(r. 680-683), recognized as his heir. This system of rule 
through tribal intermediaries was short-lived, however. On 
Mu'awiya's death, se\ eral disparate revolts — often character- 
ized as the second civil war — erupted in different parts of the 
empire. Among these was the revi >lt of I lusayn, the son of c Ali 
and the grandson of the Prophet, who was killed in Iraq in 680 
along with a small band of his followers. Though hardh 
momentous at the time it occurred, this event was to acquire 
profound importance in the history of Shi'ite Islam as the 
symbolic focus of Shi'ite piety and religious identity. At the 
time, however, far more serious threats to the Umayyads 
were represented by the revolt of 'Abdallah ibn al-Zubayr in 
the Hijaz, in Arabia, and by factional ',\ ai fare between Arab 
tribes in Syria and Mesopotamia. In 684, with the civil war 
still in progress, Marwan ibn al-Hakam (r. 684-685) was 
elected caliph in Syria marking the transfer of ruling author 
ityfromMu'awh l< cendanl tht ufyanid clan (of which 
Ulhman had been a member), to -.mother clan of the Umayyad 
family. This clan, the Marwanids, was to rule as caliphs until 
the overthrow of the Umayyad dynasty in 750. 

The Marwanids governed their empire through powerful 
generals appointed from the capital. Damascus, and through 
increasingly elaborate administrative departments (Jhrmrs). 
Late antique administrative structures and traditions contin- 
ued under the Umayyads even as they underwent sometimes 
rapid changes that expressed the evolving Arab and Islamic 
identity of the new empire. Around the turn of the eighth 
century, the langtiagt if tht i Imini nation was itself changed 
from ancient Persian and Greek to Arabic and a new system 
of coinage, clearly asserting the Islamic identity of the new 
rulers, was instituted. This identity was expressed even more 
strikingly in monumen tal architecture, of which the two most 
famous extant examples are the Dome of the Rock in Jerusa- 
lem, built during the reign of the caliph 'Abd al-Malik (r. 
685-705), and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, built 
under his successor al-Walid I (r. 705-715). 

Though the Umayyads are often portrayed as worldly 

"kings'" in Arabic historiography (an unfavorable image that 
owes much to the fact that early Islamic historiography is 
largely the work of those who were unfavorably disposed 
toward this dynasty), it was under their rule that Islamic 

religious, cultural, and political insi.ii.ui.inns began to take 
their distinctive shape. The caliphs, though far removed from 
the austere lifestyle of the Rashidun. were hardly the ungodly 

rulers that medieval Arab chroniclers and many modern 
scholars have often represented them to be. As Crone and 
Hinds have shown, their coins, their official pronounce- 
ments, and their panegyrists often characterized them as the 
"deputies of Cod," a formulation frowned on by the religious 
scholars but one that suggests something of the scope and 
seriousness of Umayyad religious claims. The caliphs are 
known to have given decisions on matters involving Islamic 
law and ritual, and some of them are featured as authorities in 
early collections of hadith. Above all, the existence of a 
powerful centralized political authority provided the crucial 
context in which the early development of Islam and of 
Muslim communal and cultural identity took place. 

Yet the growing corn mini in of Muslims also nosed serious 
challenges to the Umayyads. Since the conquest of the 
Middle East, the economic well-being of the state was based 
on the principle that the non-Muslims paid the hulk of the 
taxes on the land, while the Muslims were responsible for 
only the religioush obligated taxes on their wealth. In theory, 
anyone who joined the ranks of the Muslims was entitled to 
the same concessions; in practice, a large influx of previously 
taxed non-Arabs threatened the revenues of the empire, with 
the result that the new Muslims (the tnaivali or "clients") 
often continued to be taxed as if they had not converted to 
Islam. The Umayyads never satisfactorih resolved the prob- 
lem of how to integrate the new non-Arab Muslims into the 
Muslim community, and they thereby created considerable 
igi hi i theii if n i rhis was < ompi undi ,1 hi 
3 of those Arabs v, ho had given up their military 
careers and settled down in the conquered lands, but felt 
discriminated against or unfairly treated by the military 
generals and their (sometimes non-Muslim) tax-collecting 
agents. There was, moreover, increasing!) destructive tribal 
factionalism within the Umayyad army that severeh weak 
ened the caliphate both through faction-based military re- 
volts and the systematic persecution of members of a faction 
each time a rival came to power. 

Shi'ite groups led a number of revolts against the Umayyads, 
as did the Kharijites, erstwhile followers of Ali who had 
separated from him when he agreed to negotiate with what 
the Kharijites regarded as Mu'awiya's iniquitous part)-. The 
revolt that brought the Umayyad dynasty to an end in 750 
also began as a Shi'ite movement that called, as had many 
others before it, for returning the rule back to the rightful 
descendants of the Prophet and for rule according to the 
"book of God and the sunna of His Prophet." It was not, 
however, the descendants of 'Ali but those of al- 'Abbas, an 
uncle of the Prophet, that came to power with what is often 
characterized by modern scholars as the "Abbasid revolution." 

The Abbasids. The new center of the empire was Iraq rather 
than Syria, and bureaucrats of Iranian origin were prominent 
in the Abbasid caliphate (750-1258) from its inception. The 

new empire was, like its predecessor, also an "Arab kingdom,"' 
and indeed there were important continuities between the 


Abu-Sufyan (c. 565-653; Meccan chief) 

2. Mu'awiya I r. 661-680 
(Gov. of Syria, 639-661 ) 


3. Yazid I r. 680-683 


4. MiTawiya II r. 683 


Umm-Kulthum am/Ruqayyah=1. 'Uthman r. 644-6! 

5. Marwan I 

r. 683-685 (chief aide 
to •Uthman, 644-656; 

7. al-Walidlr. 705-715 8. Sulayman r. 715-717 10. Yazid II r. 720-724 

LHisham r. 724-743 

13. Yazid III r. 744 

Claimants to the caliphate or caliphs are set in bold tyi 

12. al-Walid II r. 743-744 

Geneology of the early caliphs. 

Umayyad and the early Abbasid caliphates. Yet, the latter was 
much more inclusive in terms of the ethnic origins of its 
soldiers and bureaucrats and much more successful in assimi- 
lating its non-Arab subjects into the Islamic empire. Its 
ideological emphases were also different from its predeces- 
sor's. Unlike the Umayyads but like the Alids, the Abbasids 
emphasized from the outset their kinship with the Prophet as 

the justification for their claims to the caliphate. This was to 
remain a major basis of their legitimist, claims, though it was 
scarcely the only one. The early Abbasid caliphs also tried to 
invoke, especially in their regnal titles, the messianic expecta- 
tions rife at the time; they sought, as had the Umayyads in 
their own ways, to bolster their authority with appeals to pre- 
Islamic royal traditions and symbolism, and they presided 

over elaborate circles of patronage that involved a broad 
spectrum of the cultural and religious elite of the time. 
Baghdad, founded by al-Mansur (r. 754-775) as his new 
capital, had evocative imperial symbolism inscribed in its ven 
design, but it soon also became the center of culture and 
learning, and of interaction not only between various Muslim 
groups and emerging schools and sects but also between 
Muslims and non-Muslims. 

The first century of Abbasid rule was a time of extraordi- 
nary cultural and religious efflorescence, not just in Baghdad 
but also in the major provincial low ns. It n as during this time 
that the eponymous founders of the major schools of Sunni 
and Shi'ite law flourished. The systematic collection of the 
traditions of the Prophet, the hadith, began to take place 
during this time; some of the first extant works of hadith date 
to this period, as does the earliest major biography of the 
Prophet, the Sira of Ibn Ishaq (d. 767). Under royal patron- 
age, systematic efforts were made to translate ancient philo- 
sophical and scientific works into Arabic, and this was the age 
that saw forma th e developments in Islamic theology, nolabh 
the rise of the rationalist Mu'tazila, as well as the beginnings 
of what later emerged as Sunni and Shi he Islam. 

But this formative age was also a time of considerable 
political turmoil. A number of Shi'ite revolts, of which the 
most serious took place in Medina and Basra in 762, threat- 
ened Abbasid rule. The existence of the descendants of Ali, 
the Shi'ite imams, and their followers in the midst of the 
community continued to challenge Abbasid legitimacy. 
Khurasan, where the Abbasid revolt had originated, saw 
many uprisings against the caliphal slate in the early decades 
after the revolution. The empire was also shaken by a destruc- 
tive civil war between two sons of Harun al-Rashid (r. 
786-809), eventuating in the murder of the incumbent caliph, 
al-Amin (r. 809-813), and the succession of his brother and 
the governor of Khurasan, al-Ma'mun (r. 813-833). This 
murder, and the widespread uncertainty and disorder that 
accompanied and followed the civil war, considerably weak 
ened the Abbasid state, necessitating extensive effort on the 
part of the caliph to reassert his authority. This effort took 

Unlike his Abbasid predecessors, al-Ma'mun made strong 
claims to religious authority, namely to an ability to lay down 
at least some of what his subjects must believe. Toward the 
end of his reign, he instituted the mihiui, an inquisition to 
enforce conformity to the theological doctrine that the Onr'an 
ought to be regarded as the "created" word of God. Irrespec- 
tive of the provenance of this idea or its theological merit, it 
allowed the caliph to assert his own authority as the arbiter of 
the community's religious liie. The inquisition was appar- 
ently intended not only to extend the scope of caliphal 
authority but also to humble mam of those scholars of hadith 
and law whose growing influence in society the caliph re- 
sented and who consequently were among the principle 

victims of the mihna. But al-Ma'mun died shortly after the 
inquisition began, and though it continued in effect under 
two of his immediate successors, it did more, in the long run, 
to define the "uncreatedness" of the Qur'an as a Sunni creed 

and to solidify the ranks of the earh Sunni scholars than it did 
to enhance the caliph's religious authority. Later caliphs were 
usually happier to align themselves with the Sunni religious 
scholars in asserting their own roles in the community's 
religious life than they were in confronting or challeng- 
ing them. 

Toward the end of the first century of Abbasid rule, the 
caliph was still in control of large parts of his realm, but his 
empire was not as extensive as it had been at the beginning of 
the dynasty, and it was rapidly shrinking. Some of the prov- 
inces were already becoming independent in all but name, 
and at the heart of the empire, the caliph had to cope with the 
increasing power of a new military force, Turkish "slave 
soldiers" drawn from the lands of the Central Asian steppe, a 
force that in later decades contributed substantially to the 
political and economic weakness of the Abbasid state. This 
pattern of a shrinking state and the caliph's increasing de- 
pendence on military generals was to continue for much of 
subsequent Abbasid history. From the middle of the tenth 
century, the caliphs came under the sway of ruling families 
that controlled die Abbasid realm, and often the person of the 
caliph himself, in all but name. The Buyids, a famih of Shi'ite 
military adventurers from Iran, ruled what was left of the 
Abbasid caliphate from the middle of the tenth to the middle 
of the eleventh century. They were supplanted by the staunchly 
Sunni Turkish Seljuks, who then oversaw the Abbasid caliphs 
until toward the end of the twelfth century. Even as the 
caliphate declined in effective political power, and for all the 
humiliations thai individual caliphs were meted out at the 
hands of the warlords, the symbolic significance of the caliphal 
institution grew during these centuries. The Shi'ite Buyids 
not only maintained the caliphate but sought also to legiti- 
mize their own rule by seeking formal recognition from the 
caliphs. The Seljuk sultans and their wazirs were often far 
more powerful than the caliph or his officials, but they too 
continued to be formally subservient to the caliph. 

Not all caliphs during this period were equally helpless, 
however. At times of political transition, when the warlords 
were weak, and depending on the personal abilities and 
initiative of individual caliphs, the latter could exercise a 
prominent role in the political and religious life of the realm. 
Notable among such caliphs were al-Qadir (r. 991-103 1) and 
al-Qa'im (r. 103 1-1075) in the Buyid period, and al-Nasir (r. 
1180-1225), who reigned at a time when the Seljuk power 
had waned and who utilized his ties with Sufi and chivalric 
(fiitinvwii) groups, which lie reorganized with himself at their 
head, to reassert his authority during a remarkably ambitious 
reign. But such revivals were sporadic and they did not do 
very much to seriously stem the effects i if the long decline the 

caliphate had already undergone. In the middle of the thir- 
teenth century, the caliphate of Baghdad was terminated 
altogether at the hands of the Mongols, whose ravages in 
eluded the destruction of large parts of the eastern Islamic 
world. The caliphate was revived — and the Mongol tide 
finally stemmed — by the Mamluks of Syria and Egypt, but 
the Abbasid caliphs of the Mamluk era never had the prestige 
or the symbolic capital possessed by many of their predeces- 
sors in Baghdad. The Alamltik era and, with it, the shallow 
Abbasid caliphate ended with the Ottoman conquest of 
Egypt in 1517. 

Ideological Challenges to the Caliphate 

From the time of its inception, Lire caliphate fared challenges 
of varying degrees of gravity to its existence. Many of these 
challenges were political. Civil wars resulted in some of the 
major shifts in the caliphal office: the end of the Rashidun era 
and the emergence of the Umayyads; the transfer of the 
caliphate from the Sufyanids to the Marwanids; the Abbasid 
revolution; and the war between al-Amin and al-Ma 3 mun. 
There was secession of territories that had once been part of 
the caliphate, internal rebellions and warfare with external 
foes, and, eventually, the loss of effective caliphal control of 
the heartland of the empire itself and, indeed, even of the 
caliphs's own freedom of action. Some of the challenges to 
the caliphate were also ideological, in that they denied the 
legitimacy of those who occupied this office or contested the 
basic assumptions on which the Sunni institution of the 
caliphate was predicated. The Kharijites, for all the antago- 
nism within their ranks, denied the legitimacy not only of 
TJthman's later years but also that of most of his successors. 
Their position thai a ruler who was guilty of a grave sin ought 
to be deposed brought them into frequent and bloody conflict 
with the government. Indeed all bul the most moderate of the 
Kharijites were eventually eliminated, but not before they 
had forcefully raised the question of what constituted a 
legitimate ruler, under what circumstances must an unjust 
and sinful ruler be deposed, and what were the terms of 
membership in the community of Muslims. As Crone has 
shown, some of the Kharijites as well as certain Mu'tazili 
theologians were not convinced that the position of a caliph 
was necessary at all, though this view did not attract much 
support from the Muslii 

If the history of the caliphate is viewed from the perspec- 
tive of the majoritarian Sunnis rather than from that of the 
Shi c a, then the latter must be seen as representing a more 
durable challenge to the legitimacy of the caliphate than had 
even the Kharijites. Divided into many different sects, the 
Shi c a agreed that the headship of the Muslim community 
belonged properly to a member of the "people of the house" 
,') t) What this phrase connoted was a matter of some 
uncertainty in early Islam, though the term came to be 
generally understood to refer to the family of the Prophet. As 

such the Abbasids, too, could and did claim to be the ahl al- 
bayt, and indeed their revolutionary propaganda had de- 
manded the installation as caliph of the "acceptable one (al- 
rida) from the family of Muhammad." The descendants of 
'Ali, however, denied that any but their own number was 
properly entitled to the caliphate, though there were sharp 
disagreements among them on the precise qualifications of 
the person who was to be the political religious head of the 
community — the imam. Since the time of their sixth imam, 
Ja'far al-Sadiq (d. 765), the Imami Shi'a had h inrid it prudent 
lo hold largely qnielist political views: The imam did not have 
to show his entitlement to this position by actually taking up 
arms against the iniquitous order, as certain other Shi'ias 
thought he must. This meant that, despite tensions, the 
Imamis could continue to live in peace under the caliphs. But 
the Isma'ili Shi'a, differing w ith the Imamis on the identity of 
those of JaTar's descendants who were to be recognized as 
imams, thought and acted differently. A state established by 
the Oarmali Isma'ilis in northeastern Arabia gave much grief 
to the Abbasids during the tenth century. In the early tenth 
century, a stronger and more ambitious Isma'ili state, the 
caliphate of the Fatimids, was established in Ilriqiyya (modern 
day Tunisia) from where it moved, in 969, to Egypt. 

The Fatimids saw themseh es as Isma'ili imams as well as 
caliphs, demanding absolute authority over their followers 
and challenging, w ith considerable might and a splendor to 
match, the legitimist claims of all oihei i i\ al slates and rulers. 
The pressure of these claims was felt w ideh , and not just by 
the Abbasids. Thus it was in response to them, and not 
primarily as an affront to the Abbasids, that the Umayyads 
who had been ruling Spain ever since the fall of the Umayyad 
caliphate in Damascus, began to also style themselves as 
caliphs in the tenth century. The Abbasids, however, outlived 
both of these claimants to the caliphate. And while the 
Fatimid caliphate was in existence, the Shi'ite Buyids of Iraq 
were happier lo pa\ nominal allegiance lo the Sunni Abbasids 
than they were to the Fatimids, and even the Oarmali Isma'ilis 
remained opposed to the latter. As for the population of 
Egypt, most people preferred lo remain Sunnis, and it was to 
the Sunni Abbasid caliphate that the celebrated Saladin 
looked when lie terminated Fatimid rule in 1171. 

The Caliphate in Constitutional Theory 

Detailed formulations of Sunni public law are the product of 
times when the caliphate had largely ceased to be an effective 
political institution. The most influential of these, the. Ihkiim 
til sultaiiiyya of the Slrafi'i jurist al-Mawardi (d. 1058), was 
written in the later Buyid period, when the caliphs had for 
decades lived in often humiliating circumstances under the 
tutelage of their military overlords. Even so, the caliph 
occupies the center of al-Mawardi's exposition, with all pow- 
ers of appointment and dismissal concentrated in his person, 
to be "delegated" to others as needed. The principal func- 
tions of the caliph, as al-Mawardi saw them, were: the 

preservation of religion according lo its agreed upon princi 
pies; implementation of the law, preservation of order, and 
the security of the realm against internal and external threats; 
undertaking jihad: die collection of the taxes as required by 
the sacred law, the shttri'a, and die proper disbursement and 
use of the revenues; ami the appointment oi. die appropriate 
officials lor discharging the various functions oi the stale: and 
close personal supervision of public affairs. A! Mawardi's 
formulations were plainly idealistic; indeed, some of them 
would have been so even when the Abbasids presided over a 
large and powerful empire. Yet, in a milieu of political 
decline, they served important functions. The) were simulta 
neously a way of protesting against the existing circum- 
stances, through a rearticnlation ofcaliphal privileges and his 
centrality to the life of the community, and a means of 
bringing juristic theory into some accord with changing 
circumstances. As for the former, it is noteworthy that the 
caliph al Qadir, under whom a 1-M a wardi wrote his treatise, 
had himself made efforts to reassert some of his authority 
against the later Buyids and, as Gibb has suggested ("Al- 
Mawardi's Theory"), this treatise may have been part of the 
same effort. But, the jurist also made important concessions 
to changing times: The person elevated to the caliphate 
ought to be the "best" oi al! (hose available, yet one who was 
not such could validly occupy die position; the caliph could 
hold his position even with his powers severely limited by a 
military usurper, provided the latter continued to abide by 
the shari'a; and independent rulers of outlying provinces 
could be recognized as legitimate and indeed integrated into 
the caliphal system if the) formally submitted to the caliph 
and did not contravene the shari't/. 

Jurists like al-Mawardi sought to tread a difficult path 
between trying to formalize and legitimize the status quo, to 
adapt the shari'a itself to the changing circumstances, and to 
encourage the existing authorities to conform in some man- 
ner to the shari'a. Later jurists went much beyond al-Mawardi 
in their concessions to realpolitik. For instance, al-Ghazali (d. 
1111) argued that the interests of the community dictated 
that any military usurper be deemed legitimate, for the effort 
to remove him would inevitably result in political chaos and 
bloodshed; indeed, whoever was recognized as caliph by the 
military ruler was to he accepted as a legitimate caliph. Such 
juristic formulations meant the recognition of a reality the 
jurists (or the caliphs, for that matter) were powerless to 
change. They also signified efforts to safeguard the historical 
continuity of the Muslim community. To concede that the 
constituted political authority was (and for centuries past had 
been) illegitimate would have meant thai tire overall political 
framework in which the community lived was fundamentally 
illegitimate, and, unlike the Shi'a, the Sunni scholars were not 
willing to go so far. Yet, as Khaled Abou El Fadl has shown, if 
tire) icknow Iedged the It itirnai of the existing order and 
had a stake in its preservation, many Sunni jurists did not 
necessarily close all doors to the possibility of rebellion 
against unjust rule. Leaving such a possibility open may not 

have had much practical efficacy, though it did serve as a 
pointed reminder of the jurists' view that a ruler was legiti- 
mate only insofar as he did not flagrantly contravene the basic 
norms of justice and of the shari'a — that is, as long as he 
allowed the continuance of a world in which the scholars 
could do their work of proA, iding practical religious guidance 
to the community. For the most part, however, Sunni poiiii 
cal thought had made its peace with the political realities long 
before the extinction of the Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad. 
The resurrected Abbasid caliphate of Cairo did not receive 
much attention from later scholars. Rather, jurists like Ibn 
Taymiyya (d. 1328) ignored the institution altogether, focus- 
ing instead on the implementation of the shari'a by the 
ruler — whoever he might be — in collaboration with the relig- 
ious scholars. 

Historic and Symbolic Significance of the Caliphate 

Tire fundamental importance of the caliphate, irrespective of 
the actual conduct of individual caliphs or the political for 
tunes of the institution, lies in what it symbolizes of the 
classical history of Islam and oi the Muslim community. The 
early caliphate was not only the force behind the military 
expansion of die Arab Muslims immediately after the death of 
Muhammad, ii was also the institution thai kept the Muslims 
together as a religious and political entity. For all the ad- 
verse views that abound about the Umayyads in Arabic 
historiography , il was through their caliphate thai the politi 
cal survival of the Muslim community was i uied. Anditwas 
in the framework of the caliphal state, under the Umayyads 
and then under the Abbasids, dial the religious and cultural 
institutions of Islam evolved. The formation of Islam, its 
intellectual life, and culture in the first centuries, is, in short, 
not merely intertwined with but inconceivable without the 

Even as it declined, the caliphate continued to represent 
the historical continuity of the Muslim community. It also 
represented the ideal of the shari'a's supremacy in the collec- 
tive life of the community. The symbolic weight of the 
caliphal institution continued to be felt, as long as the caliphate 
lasted, in the investitures sought by many of the rulers who 
were independent of the caliphate in all but name. This 
symbolic power could be revived even long after the institu- 
tion associated with it had become extinct. For much of their 
history, the Ottoman sultans had not claimed lo iie "caliphs, " 
yet even they began to do so from the late eighteenth century. 
This was largely meant to assert Ottoman authority over 
those who lived in territories now lost to the sultan, and 
thereby also to bolster his weakening standing vis-a-vis the 
European powers of the time. Such claims on the part of the 
sultans had resonance in several Muslim societies, especially 
as the latter came under colonial rule and began more 
anxiously to look for a visible symbol of the worldwide 
Muslim community. This sentiment found lis most powerful 
expression in India, w here what w as in fact lire Indian stibcon 
tinent's very first mass-movement of the colonial period was 

launched in defense of the Ottoman caliphate at the end of 
the First World War — a movement that came to an end only 
with the formal termination of the Ottoman caliphate by 
Republican Turkey in 1924. That was not the end of the 
symbolic significance of die caliphate, however. For it was in 
the debates surrounding the dissolution of the Ottoman 
caliphate that some of the first modern discussions on the 
"Islamic state" were to find their point of departure in the 
twentieth century. 

See ako Empires: Abbasid; Empires: Ottoman; Empires: 
Umayyad; Kharijites, Khawarij; Monarchy. 


Abou El Fadl, Khaled. Rebellion and I '/elan,- in Islamic tare. 
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 

Azmeh, Aziz al-. Muslim Kingship: Rover and the Sacred in 
Muslim, Christian, and Pagan Polities. London: I. B. 
Tauris, 1997. 

Crone, Patricia. "Ninth-century Muslim Anarchists." Past 
and Present 167 (2000): 3-28. 

Crone, Patricia. Slaves on Horses. Cambridge, U.K.: Cam- 
bridge University Press, 1980. 

Crone, Patricia, and Hinds, Martin. God's Caliph: Religions 
Authority in the 1 1 \t Cei/tarii , Is!, m < ambridge, U.K.: 
Cambridge University Press, 1986. 

Gibb, H. A. R. "Al-Mawardi's Theory of the Caliphate." In 
his Studies on the Civilization of Islam. London: Romledge 
and Kegan Paul, 1962. 

Gibb, H. A. R. "Some Considerations on the Sunni Theory 
of the Caliphite In hi eCivii afion of Islam. 

London: Roulledge and Kegan Paul, 1962. 

Hawting, G. R. The Firs! Dynasty of Islam. 2d ed. London: 
Routledge, 2000. 

llibri, TayebEl / / by: h 

al-Rashid and the Xarrative of the '. Ibbasid Caliphate. Cam- 
bridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 

Hodgson, Marshall G. S. The Vei I / , I 

History in a World I ■ It at m I bi< i| o: University of 
Chicago Press, 1974. 

Kennedy, Hugh. The Prophet and the Age of the ( 
London: Longman, 1986. 

Lambton, A. Iv. S. State and Government in Medieval Islam. 
Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1981. 

Madelnng, Wilferd. The Succession to 'Muhammad: A Study of 
the Early Caliphate. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Univer- 
sity Press, 1997. 

Mawardi, A1-. The Ordinances of Government. Translated by 
W. H. Wahba. Reading, U.K.: Garnet Publishing, 1996. 

Qadi, Wadad al-. "The Term 'Khalifa' in Early Exegetical 
Literature." Die Welt des Islams 28 (1988): 392-411. 
'n m i nin i M. T old Umayyad Caliphate: 1 ' i 

lation of Caliphal Legitimacy in al-Andalus. Cambridge, 
Mass.: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard Uni- 
versity, 2000. 

> indt i Paul \. 1 /. Polit'h • ' i i i Tatim Cat 

Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994. 
Tabari, Al . The History of 'Al Tabari. Albany : Stale University 

ofNew York Press, 1985-1999. 
I \ in J mile histitutio la droit pnbli nsa ol. 1: Lc 

califat. Paris: R. Sirey, 1954. 
Zaman, Muhammad Qasim. Religion and Polities under the 
Early Abbasids. Leiden: Brill, 1997. 

Muhammad Qasim Zaman 


Muslims have always deemed calligraphy, the art of beautiful 
writing, the noblest of the arts. The first chapters of the 
Qur'an revealed to the prophet Muhammad in the early 
seventh century (suras 96 and 68) mention the pen and 
writing. Writing in Arabic script soon became a hallmark of 
Islamic civilization, found on everything from buildings and 
coins to textiles and ceramics, and scribes and calligraphers 
became the most honored type of artist. We know the names, 
and even the biographies, of more calligraphers than any 
other type of artist. Probably because of the intrinsic link 
between writing and the revelation, islamic calligraphy is 
meant to convey an aura of effortlessness and immti I ability, 
and the individual hand and personality are sublimated to 
the overall impression of stateliness and grandeur. In this 
way Islamic calligraphy differs markedly from oilier great 
calligraphic traditions, notably the Chinese, in which the 
written text is meant to impart the personality of the calligra 
pher and recall the moment of its creation. Islamic calligra 
phy, by contrast, is timeless. 

The reed pen (qalam) was the writing implement par 
excellence in Islamic ch ilization. The brush, used for callig- 
raphy in China and Japan, was reserved for painting in the 

Islamic lands. In earliest times Muslim calligraphers penned 
their works on parchment, generally made from the skins of 
sheep and goats, but from the eighth century parchment was 
gradually replaced by the cheaper and more flexible support 
of paper. From the fourteenth century virtually all calligra 
phy in the Muslim lands was written on paper. Papermakers 
developed elaborately decorated papers to complement the 
hue calligraphy, and the colored, marbled, and gold sprinkled 
papers used by calligraphers in later periods are some of the 
finest ever made. 

Almost all Islamic calligraphy is \\ ritten in Arabic script. 
The Qur'an was revealed in that language, and the sanctity of 
the revelation meant that the script was adopted for many 
itherlan ua uch as new Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and 

Urdu. Unlike many other scripts that have at least two 
distinct forms of writing — a monumental or printed form in 
which the letters are written separately and a cursive or 
handu ritten form in which they are connected — Arabic has 

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The Arabic alphabet. Arabic i illigra h i lone with a qa/an 
Asia. Islam's reverence for the written word contributes to > 

form. © Historic \l Pirn irl Arci iive/Corbis 

only the cursive form, in which some, but not all, letters are 
connected and assume different forms depending on their 
position in the word (initial, medial, final, and independent). 

The cursive nature of Arabic script allowed calligraphers 

lo develop many different styles of writing, w hich are ustialh 
grouped under two main headings: rectilinear and rounded. 
Since the eighteenth century, scholars have often called the 
rectilinear styles "Kufic," after the city of Kufa in southern 
Iraq, which was an intellectual center in early Islamic times. 
This name is something of a misnomer, for as yet we have no 
idea which particular rectilinear style this name denoted. 
Scholars have proposed various other names to replace kufic. 
including Old or Early Ahbasid style, but these names are not 
universally accepted, in part because they carry implicit 
political meanings, and many scholars continue to use the 
term kufic. 

Similarly, scholars often called the rounded styles naskh, 
froi i tilt erb / i|m op I lie in i ript is hid I tin 

most common hand used for transcription and the one upon 
w hich modern su les of typography are based, but the name is 
also something of a misnomer, for it refers to only one of a 
group of six rounded hands that became prominent in later 
Islamic times. As with kufic, scholars have proposed several 
other names to replace naskh, such as new style (often abbre- 
viated N.S.), or new Abbasid style, but these names, too, are 
not universally accepted. 

Medieval sources mention the names of many other 
calligraphic hands, but so far it has been difficult, even 
impossible, to match many of these names with distinct styles 
of script. Very few sources describe the characteristics of a 
particular style or give illustrations of particular scripts. 
Furthermore, the same names may have been applied to 
different styles in different places and at different times. 
Hence it may never be possible to link the names of specific 
scripts given in the sources w ith the many, often fragmentary, 
manuscripts at hand, especially from the early period. 

Both the rectilinear and the rounded styles were used for 
writing from early Islamic times, but in the early period the 
rounded style seems to have been a book hand used for 
ordinary correspondence, while the rectilinear style was re- 
served for calligraphy . Although no examples of early callig- 
raphy on parchment can be definitively dated before the late 
ninth century, the importance of the rectilinear style in early 
Islamic times is clear from other media with inscriptions, such 
as coins, architecture, and monumental epigraphy. Hie Fikrisl 
by Ibn al-Nadim (d. 995) records the names of calligraphers 
who worked in the Umayj ad and Abbasid periods, and both 
coins and the inscriptions on the first example of Islamic 
architecture, the Dome of the Rock erected in Jerusalem by 
the Umayyad caliph c Abd al-Malik in 692, show that from 
earliest times Umayyad calligraphers applied such aesthetic 
principles as balance, symmetry, elongation, and stylization 
to transform ordinary u riling into calligraphy. 

Calligraphers in early Islamic times regularly used the 
rectilinear styles to transcribe manuscripts of the Qur'an. 
Indeed, the rectilinear styles might be deemed Qur'anic 
hands, for we know only one other manuscript — an unidenti- 
fied genealogical text in Berlin (Staatsbibliotheque no. 379) — 
written in a rectilinear script. None of these early manu- 
scripts of the Qur'an is signed < >r dated, and most survive only 
in fragmentary form, and so scholars are still refining other 
methods, both paleographic and codicological, to group and 
localize the scripts used in these early parchment manuscripts 

The major change in later Islamic times was the gradual 
adoption and adaptation of round hands for calligraphy. 
From the ninth century calligraphers transformed the round 
hands into artistic scripts suitable for transcribing the Qur'an 
and other prestigious texts. The earliest surviving copy i if I lie 
Qur'an written in a rounded hand is a small manuscript, now 
dispersed but with the largest section preserved in the Ches- 
ter Beatty Library in Dublin (ms. 1417). It bears a note in 
Persian saying that the manuscript was corrected by a certain 
Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Abu '1-Qasm al-Khayqani in June 905, 
and it is tacitly accepted that the rounded hand was developed 
in Iran or nearb) Iraq, heartland of the Abbasid caliphate. In 
the ensuing centuries calligraphers continued to develop and 
elaborate the rounded style, and from the fourteenth century 
\ irtuallj all manuscripts of the Qur 5 an were written in one of 
the six round scripts know n as the Six Pens (Arabic, nl iiqhim 
' ii I i mprise three pairs of 

majuscule-miniscule hands, thuluth naskh, muhaqqaq-rayhan, 

ml / i i Hi i nl deli lit i! in ju I po in 

the different scripts, particularly die larger and smaller vari- 
ants of the same pair. 

Various explanations have been proposed for this trans- 
formation of rounded book hands into proportioned scripts 
suitable for calligraphing fine manuscripts. These explana 
tions range from the political (e.g., the spread of orthodox 
Sunni Islam) to the sociohistorical (e.g., the new role of the 
chancery scribe as copyist and calligrapher), but perhaps the 
most convincing are the practical. The change from rectilin- 
ear to rounded script coincided with the change from parch- 
ment to paper, and the new style of writing might well be 
connected with a new type of reed pen, a new method of 
sharpening the nib, or a new way that the pen was held, placed 
on the page, or moved across it. In the same way, the adoption 
ol paper engendered the adoption of a new type of black soot 
ink (nitdtid) that replaced the dark brown, tannin-based ink 
(hibr) used on parchment. 

From the fourteenth centurj calligraphers, especially those 
in the eastern Islamic lands, developed more stylized forms of 
rounded script. The most distinctive is the hanging script 
known as nasta'liq, which was particularly suitable for tran- 
scribing Persian, in which many words end in letters with 

large bowls, such as ya' or ta\ Persian calligraphers com- 
monly used nasta'liq to pen poetic texts, in which the rounded 
bowls at the end of each hemistich form a visual chain down 
the right side of the columns on a page. They also used 
luistifliq to pen poetic specimens (qit'a). These elaborately 
planned calligraphic compositions typically contain a Persian 
quatrain written in colored and gold-dusted inks on fine, 
brightly colored ami highly polished paper and set in elabo- 
rately decorated borders. The swooping strokes of the letters 
and bowls provide internal rhythm and gh e structure to the 
composition. In contrast to the anonymous works of the earl) 
period, these calligraphic specimens are frequently signed 
and dated, and connoisseurs \ ied 10 assemble fine collections, 
which were often mounted in splendid albums. 

Calligraphy continues to be an important art form in 
modern times, despite the adoption of the Latin alphabet in 
;s such as Turkey. Some calligraphers are trying 

to revive the tradi 
investigate and redi 

als. Societies leachi 

ditional styles, notably the Six 

:r traditional techniques and materi- 
hing calligraphy nourish. The Anjuman-e 
Khushnvisan-e Iran (Society of Iranian Calligraphers), for 
example, has branches in all the main cities of the country, 
with thousands of students. Other artists are extending the 
calligraphic tradition to new media, adopting calligraphy in 
new forms, ranging from three dimensional sculpture to oil 
painting on canvas. More than any other civilization, Islam 
values the written word. 

See also Arabic Language; Arabic Literature; Art. 


Bloom, Jonathan Al ' / 

of Paper in the Islamic 1 1 'orhl. New Haven, Conn., and 

London: Yale University Press, 2001. 
Ivhatibi, Abdelkebir, and Sijelmassi, Mohammed. The Splendour 

of Islamic Calligraphy. London: Thames and Hudson, 1994. 
Lings, Alarti < // i / I / 

tion. London: World of Islam Festival Trust, 1976. 
Safadi, Y. H. Islamic Calligraphy. Boulder, Colo.: 

Shambala, 1979. 
Schimmel, Annemarie. Islamic Calligraphy. Leiden: E. J. 

Brill, 1970. 
Schimmel, Annemarie < >h\ and Isla Cidtme New 

York: New York University Press, 1984. 

Sheila S. Blair 
Jonathan M. Bloom 


Among the claims of the contemporary literature kno^ 
"Islamic economics" is that Islamic law provides 

system conducive to free exchange. Where this system alleg- 
edly differs from capitalism, which also promotes economic 
freedoms, is that it avoids sharp inequalities, chronic corrup- 
tion, and mass exploitation. If Muslims restructure their 
economic relations according to Islamic stipulations, say the 
proponents of Islamic economics, they can obtain all the 
benefits oi capitalism u ithotil incurring its costs. Specifically, 
they can achieve prosperity, steady innovation, and material 
security — all traits associated with today's advanced market 
economies within a framework based on honesty and broth 
erly cooperation. 

If this logic resonates with many Muslims, the reason is 
that the current economic performance of the Islamic world 

is generally disappointing. The predominantly Muslim conn 
tries included in the annual "Corruption Index" of Transpar- 
ency International all rank as substantially ""more corrupt" 
than the typical advanced economy. Except for the small oil- 
exporting countries of the Arabian peninsula, not a single 
Muslim governed state is among the world's wealthiest conn 
tries, and many Muslim countries are impoverished. The 
Islamic world's participation in world trade is low in relation 
to its share of global population. Mthough the basic eco- 
nomic institutions of the Islamic world are formally similar to 
those of the successful market economies, there is a consensus 
that they do not perform as well. 

Like many secular critics of capitalism. Islamists attribute 
this situation to Western imperialism. Starting in the eight- 
eenth century, they argue. European traders and financiers, 
along with the states that supported them, destroyed local 
crafts, monopolized natural resources, secularized the judi- 
cial system, and gradually took over key aspects oi economic 
governance. They also lowered the Islamic world's standards 
of honest) and weakened its ethic of brotherly cooperation. 

Institutional Sources of Underdevelopment 

In fact, European imperialism was a result, rather than the 
leading cause, of the Islamic world 's economic shortcomings. 
Prior to embarking on the global colonization drive whose 
results included the economic subjugation of the world's 
Muslim peoples, the West underwent a sustained institu- 
tional transformation thai gave rise to modern capitalism. 
During this transformation, which began around the elev- 
enth century, the institutions of the Islamic world also experi 
enced changes, but these were relatively minor. As late as the 
nineteenth century, the contractual forms recognized by the 
Islamic court system were essentially those developed a mil- 
lennium earlier. The concept of a juridical person had no 
place in Islamic law. Nor did Islamic law recognize joint- 
stock companies or corporations. Although money lending 
remained a nourishing profession among both Muslims and 
non-Muslims, there were no banks, for these reasons, among 
others, the Islamic world's economic system was now ineffi- 
cient in relation to the emerging capitalist system of the 


. It is this handicap that subjected the Middle East and 
:st of the Islamic work! to Western economic domination. 


As this domination was taking shape, the Islamic world 
experienced no general economic decline in the absolute 
sense. But it started showing clear signs of underdevelopment, 
as measured by the living standards, productivity levels, and 
institutional dynamism prevailing in the West. 

In early stages of the West's economic ascent, the Islamic 
world's market institutions were at least as efficient as their 
Western counterparts, and in some respects more so. Its 
partnership laws, which were codified by jurists generally 
familiar with the needs of merchants and investors, gave 
traders a remarkable array of contractual options. Although 
interest was formally banned, financiers easily circumvented 
the prohibition, which, in any case, was often interpreted 
loosely, as disallowing only exploitative interest charges. 
Disputes between partners, and between buyers and sellers. 
w ere settle.'! informal!} through arbitration or formal!) through 
the Islamic courts, whose jurisdiction covered al! economic 
transactions. A wide range of social service organizations, 
including schools, charities, commercial centers, and rest 
slops for caravans, were established in a decentralized manner 
through waqfs, or Islamic trusts. The typical waqf also served 
as a wealth shelter, for its assets were relatively safe from 
confiscation and its founder could shower himself, his rela- 
tives, and even his descendants with material benefits. To a 
degree, the privileges enjoyed by a^gf founders compensated 
for the chronic weakness of private property rights. For 
several centuries — estimates of the end point range from the 
fourteenth century to the eighteenth century — this system 
afforded the Islamic world a standard of living that was equal, 
if not superior, to that of Europe. 

The Rise of Modern Capitalism 

Meanwhile, the West underwent the momentous structural 
transformation thai resulted in capitalism. This transforma- 
tion included the strengthening of individual property rights, 
the recognition of juridical persons in a growing number of 
sectors, and a sustained broadening of the menu of contrac- 
tual forms available to investors, traders, workers, and con- 
sumers. By the eighteenth century, and unmistakably by the 
:nth, the relative sophistication of Europe's economic 
, allowed its financiers and merchants to dominate 
cross the globe. The main reason why the 
Islamic world fell into a state of underdevelopment is that 
changes taking place outside the Islamic world had the effect 
of reducing the efficiency of pre-capitalist economic institu- 
tions based on Islamic law. 

Why Islamic law itself failed lo generate the basic institu- 
tions of capitalism has long been a matter of controversy. One 
thing is certain. The explanation is not, as nineteenth- and 
early-twentieth -centurj thinkers were inclined to believe, 
that Islam is inherently hostile to commerce or prosperity. 
The classical sources of Islam are replete with provisions 

designed, to facilitate exchange and production. Nor can the 
lag be attributed to policies aimed at retarding growth. The 
Islamic world's structural transformation was delayed he 
cause certain institutions well suited to the economic condi- 
tions of classical Islam produced unintended consequences. 

Unintended Consequences 

One of these institutions was the Islamic inheritance system. 
Outlined in the Qur'an, the Islamic inheritance system re- 
quires two-thirds of a person's estate to be apportioned 
among members of his or her extended family according to 
criteria dependent on the composition of the possibly numer- 
ous heirs and their relationships to the deceased. Prior to the 
modern era, this system raised the cost of keeping productive 
enterprises intact across generations. Equalh important, he 
cause the death of even one partner resulted in termination of 
the enterprise, and in the dissolution of its assets, the prevail- 
ing inheritance rules created incentives for keeping partner- 
ships small and ephemeral. Consequently, the growing 
complexity that characterized the productive, financial, and 
ercial enterprises of Europeans was not observed in 
:s under Islamic law . By contrast, the tela live flexibil- 
ity of European inheritance regimes allowed practices de- 
signed to keep estates intact, such as primogeniture. These 
practices facilitated the establishment of larger and longer- 
lasting enterprises, which then stimulated the development of 
increasingly sophisticated accounting systems, specialized 
markets, and contractual forms in order to minimize operat- 
ing costs. 

Until the Western-inspired economic reforms of the 
nineteenth century, Islamic civilization offered no corporate 
structures capable of serving as prototypes for durable finan- 
cial or mercantile organizations. The one major Islamic 
institution that some consider an exception is the waqf. 
Established to provide a service in perpetuity, a waqf, like a 
corporation, was meant to outlive its founder and employees. 
Nevertheless, it lacked most of the freedoms associated with 
corporate status. Most significant, it was supposed to refrain 
from remaking it!, internal rules and modifying its objectives. 
Still another unintended effect of the waqf system was that, by 
enhancing material security, it dampened incentives for seek 
ing stronger property rights. Economic historians generally 
believe that in the West the strengthening of individual 
property rights played a critical role in the rise of modern 

By the nineteenth century, it was clear that the traditional 
economic institutions of the Islamic world had become a 
liability. The institutional borrow ings that followed included 
new forms of organization, including complex partnerships, 
joint-stock companies, and corporations. Another historical 
break that occurred at this time was the establishment of 
various secular courts to adjudicate commercial and financial 
disputes involving contractual forms alien to traditional Is 

ography and Geography 

modern capitalism. In fact, the infrastructure of capiuilisi 
was inadequate, and Middle Easterners, being la! 

In January, 1998, this Indonesian money changer was busy 
working the phones after .1 day of panic buying at supermarkets 
that left the Indonesian rupiah volatile and led the United States 
and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to send top officials to 
the country in an attempt to salvage a bailout effort. With the 
exception of a few oil-rich countries in the Middle East, no Muslim 
country is among the world's wealthiest. The lingering effects of 
the transition from an older, Islamic economic order to Western 
capitalism has left many Muslim countries in poverty and has led 
some Islamists to blame the West for their countries' suffering and 
social turmoil. AP/Wide World Photos 

Weberian Thesis 

The foregoing institutional explanation for the under- 
development of the Middle East calls into question its most 
celebrated alternative: the Weberian thesis, which traces the 
origins of capitalism to the ideological creativity of the 
Protestant Reformation. Weber's argument was challenged, 
by R. H. Tawney, who showed that capitalist institutions 
preceded, even created, what Weber called the capitalist 
spirit. Tawney's observation suggests that where capitalist 
institutions failed to evolve through locally driven processes, 
as in the Islamic Middle East, vigorous and successful 
entrepreneurship would be limited. 

At the time that Weber wrote, bilateral trade between the 
Islamic world and western Europe was almost entire!) under 
the control of Europeans, who provided much of the requisite 
financing, know-how, and transportation. It thus seemed that 
the Middle East lacked the entrepreneurship essential to 

;, lacked basic 
ras during the 
order and the 
nth century to 
11s and Jews of 

operating under moder 
experiences and resources. Significantly, it a 
twilight of the traditional Islamic economic 
transition to modern capitalism — the eightee 
the early twentieth century — that the Christi; 
the region by anil large gained economic ground against its 
Muslims. Entitled since the early days of Islam to choice of 
law, which they had sometimes exercised in favor of indige- 
nous non -Muslim contractual forms, the Christian and. lew 
ish religious minorities began using modern contractual 
forms about a century before Muslims were able to do so. 
Equally important, mane operated under the protection of 
European operated courts, as opposed to local Islamic courts. 

See also Communism; Economy and Economic Institu- 
tions; Globalization. 


Cizakca, Mural. A Compara L < of Basin I 1 

ships: The Islamic II 'odd mid Europe, ivith Special Reference to 
the Ottoman Archives. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996. 

Ibrahim lahmood \k chain , tahu I Islam Vustin: Uni- 
versity of Texas Press, 1990. 

Issawi, Charles. "The Entrepreneurial Class." In The Arab 
World's Legacy. By Charles Issawi. Princeton, N.J.: Darwin 
Press, 1981. 

Kuran, Timur. "Islam and Underdevelopment: An Old Puz- 
zle Revisited. " Journal oj Institutional am I Theoretical Econo 
mics 153 (1997): 41-71. 

Kuran, Timur. "The Pr< a ision of Public ( loods under Islamic 
Law: Origins, Impact, and Limitations of the Waqf Sys- 
tem." Law and Society Review 35 (2001): 841-897. 

1 li < 11 'in ' 1 translated by Brian 

Pearce (1966). Reprint, New York: Pantheon, 1973. 

'Timur Kuran 


There exist hundreds — if not thousands — of cartographic 
images of the world and various regions scattered throughout 
the medieval and early modern Arabic, Persian, and Turkish 
manuscript collections, worldwide. Yet most of these maps 
have lain virtually untouched and have often been deliber- 
ately ignored on the grounds that they were not accurate 
representations of the world. Whai many failed to see is that 
these schematic, geometric, and often perfectly symmetrical 
images of the world are iconographic representations of the 
way in which the medieval Muslims perceived it. Granted, 
these were stylized visions restricted to the literati — the 

readers, collectors, commissioners, writers, and copyists of 
the geographic texts within which these maps are found. 
However, the plethora of extant copies produced all over the 
Islamic world, including- India, testifies to the enduring and 
u idespread popnlarirj of these medieval Islamic cartographic 
visions. For nothing less than six centuries (eight, if nineteenth 
century South Asian examples are included), these carto- 
graphic visions \\ ere perpetuated primarih in one fossilized 
carlogeographic series: the Kittib id imisidik ;vn id iimnitriik 
(Book of roads and kingdoms). 

What all these extant maps say is that — at least from the 
thirteenth century onward, whence copies of these map- 
manuscripts begin to proliferate the work! was a very de- 
picted place. It loomed huge in the medieval Muslim imagi 
nation. It was pondered, discussed, and copied with minor 
and major variations again and again. 

Al-ldrisi and Piri Re'is 

The heller known examples of this Islamic mapping tradi- 
tion, iii contemporary Eastern as well as Western scholar- 
ship, is the work of the twelfth century North African 
geographical scholar al Sharif al-ldrisi (d. 1165). The Nor- 
man king, Roger II (1097-1154). commissioned al Idrisi to 
produce an illustrated geography of the world. This yielded 
al-Idn i's \// i i I In h iol in 

pleasant journeys into faraway lands), also known as the Book 
of Roger. Al Idrisi divided the world according to the Ptole- 
maic system of seven climes, with each clime broken down 
into ten sections. The most complete manuscript (1469) 
contains one world map and seventy detailed sectional maps. 

The sixteen th-cenuin Ottoman naval captain, Muhyiddin 
Piri Re'is (d. 1554), was another Muslim cartographer who 
has become famous worldwide. Renowned for the earliest 
extant map of the New World, Piri Re'is and his accurate 
earl) sixteenth-century map of South America and Antarc- 
tica have been the subject of many a controversial study. Piri 
Re'is also produced detailed sectional maps but — like the 
Italian , J, ' he re tricled himself to the oastal areas of 
the Mediterranean. The second version olh > Bui i;y< 

(Book of maritime matters) contains 210 unique topo- 
carlographic maps of important Mediterranean cities and 

The striking mimesis (geographical accuracy) ofthesetwo 
Muslim cartographic traditions has caused the work of al- 
ldrisi and Piri Re'is to be elevated above the rest of the 
Middle Eastern mapping corpus in contemporary scholar 
ship. Aside from the problems of attribution that abound with 
these two cartographers (none of the extant al Idrisi maps, for 
instance, date back to his time, while Piri Re'is's map is 
thought to be a copy of one by Christopher Columbus), 
scholarly focus on this more mimetic end of the is lam it- 
mapping tradition has occluded an enormous body of maps 
that were much more popular in the medieval and early 
modern Islamic world than the work of al Idrisi or Piri Re'is. 

The "Wondrous" Tradition 

In actuality, maps occur in a wide variety of Islamic texts and 
contexts. A popular location for classical Islamic world and 
cosmographic maps is in the so-called 'Aja'ib ("wondrous") 
literary tradition, which includes descriptions of flora, fauna, 
architecture, and other wonders of the world. Best known of 
this genre is the work of the thirteenth century Iranian writer, 
Zakariyya : ibn Muhammad al Qazv ini (d. 12 S3), v hose work 
',ii i ' , i , [lie wonders oi 

creatures and the marvels of creation) focuses on the wonders 
of the world — real and fabulous. Copies from the late thir- 
teenth century onward (during the lifetime of the author) 
began to incorporate illustrations of flora and fauna as well as 
world maps. 

Copies of Siraj al-Din Abu 1 la is I 'mar Ibn al-Wardi's (d. 
I ! i Ki. a ,n , , r 1 1 , , , , i • ( I 1m h lbored 

pearl of wonders and the precious gem of marvels) oiler a 
variation of the 'Aja'ib tradition thai incorporates at least one 
world map along with other cartographies, such as a Qibla 
map (a way-finding diagram (oi locating Mecca), and inset 
maps of Qazwin and other cities. Judging by the plethora of 
pocket book-size copies that still abound in every Oriental 
in inn i i ipi < oil ction, the 1 i I, i I mu have beei 
a bestseller in the late medieval and early modern Islamic 
world. Moreover, it is significant that this Arabic bestseller 
always incorporated, within the first four or five folios, a 
classical Islamic world map. 

Eventually the classical Islamic w oi Id maps also crept into 
general geographical encyclopedias, such as Shihab al-Din 
Abu 'Abdallah Yaqut's (d. 1229) thirteenth century Kitab 
Mud, an ,i! Btihliin (Dictionary of countries). The earliest 
prototype of this type of map is found in a copy of Abu '1- 
Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni's (d. after 1250) 
S al il i,i, nm (Book of instruction). World maps are also 
used to open some of the classic histories. Copies of such 
well-known works as Ibn Khaldun's (d. 1406) Miii/,/ihd;//,il: 
(The prologue) often begin with an al-ldrisi map, while 
copies of the historian Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al- 
Tabari's (d. 923) Ta'rikh al-rusul wa-al-mtduk (History of 

prophel ind kin; i somelinn included a Ptole linn 

type" map of the world as a frontispiece. Similarly, classical 
Islamic maps of the world found their way into sixteenth 
century Ottoman histories, such as the scroll containing 
>e id Lokm in Ziibil , , ih (Ci mi '1 hi torii pro 
duced in the reign of Sulej man I (1520-1566). 

New Maps for New Purposes 

From the fifteenth century until the late nineteenth century, 

hajj (pilgrimage) manuals containing; map like pictures of the 
holy sites proliferated. An excellent example of this prototype 
is the Fntnh al //<</, mayn (The conquests of the holy sites) 
manuscript series. Around the same time, a tradition began in 
mosques of including a glazed tile containing a schematic 
representation of the Iva'ba adjacent to the niihinb (prayer 

aphy and Geography 

niche). If the definition of precisely what constitutes a map 
can be stretched, then even the map-like images found in 
Islamic miniature paintings can be incorporated into the 
Islamic cartographic repertoire. 

Some scholars believe that the source of this rich and 
widespread medieval Islamic propensity Lo make maps lies in 
the earliest Arabic textual references to maps. For instance, 
the silver globe (til Sum al Mti'muniya) that the Abbasid 
caliph al-Ma 5 mun (r. 813-833) is said to have commissioned 
from the scientists working in his Bayt til llikvia (House of 
knowledge). The problem with the al-Ma'munid silver globe 
is that it is probably mythical. Other than an extremely vague 
passage cited in Abu '1 I lasan Ali ibn al I Itisayn al Mas'iidfs 
(d. 956) Kitab al-tanbih wa-al-ishraf '(Book of instruction and 
revision), there are no descriptions of it. Al-Mas'udi's de- 
scription is very confused. It suggests an impossibly compli- 
cated celestial map superimposed upon a globe, an extremely 
sophisticated armillary sphere of which there are no extant 
example until the fourteenth century. At least one scholar, 
David King, has interpreted this description to suggest an 
astrolabe with world-map markings superimposed on it. 

There also are a few references to maps from the end of 
the first century of Islam (c. 702). Apparently, al-Hallaj ibn 
Yusuf, the Umayyad governor of the eastern part of the 
Muslim empire, commissioned maps, for military purposes, 
of the region of Daylam (south of the Caspian Sea), as well as 
a plan of the city of Bukhara. Requests for maps for military 
purposes are highly unusual in Islamic history. Not until the 
time of the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II (r. 1444-1446; 
1451-1481) are there similar requests for maps for military 
purposes. Unfortunately, none of the al-Hallaj requests are 
extant, and there are no detailed descriptions of these maps 

In Kitab al-buldan (Book of countries) Ahmad ibn Abi 
Ya'qub al-Ya c qubi (d. c. late ninth century) reports that a plan 
of the round city of Baghdad was drawn up in 758 for the 
Abbasid caliph, al-Mansur (r. 754-775). The Egyptian chroni- 
cler al-Maqrizi mentions thai a "magnificent" map on "fine 
blue" silk with "gold lettering" upon which was pictured 
"parts of the earth with all the cities and mountains, seas and 
rivers" was prepared for the Fatimid caliph al-Mu'izz (r. 
953-975) and even entombed with him in his mausoleum 
in Cairo. 

The only extant source containing maps prior to the, Kitab 

i h century co| In 

Ja c far Muhammad ibn Musa al Khwarazrni's (d. 847 c.e.) 
Kitab stirat til ///y/ (Picture of the Earth). ( Composed primarih 
of a series of zij tables (tables containing longitudinal and 
latitudinal coordinates), it also includes four maps. Two are 
unidentifiable, one is a map of the Sea of Azov, and one is of 
the Nile. ( )1 all the maps in this manuscript, only the map of 
the Nile appears to be directly related to maps of the Nile that 
one finds in later carlo geographical works. 

The Start of the Mapping Phenomenon 

In order to understand the mapping traditions that flowered 
in the Islamic world in the later middle ages and early modern 
period, one has to go back to the tradition that sired them all. 
It can be argued that the fons origo oi the Islamic mapping 
tradition is none other than the so-called "Islamic Atlas." 
This carto-geographical tradition is best known by the title of 
its most prolifically copied version: al-Istakhri's Kitab al- 
' ii ' , > vmalik (Book of roads and kingdoms). For 

convenience, this may be referred to as the KMMS mapping 
tradition. The "5" at the end of this acronym is used to specify 
those versions of this manuscript series that contain carto- 
graphic images (standing for Sura, pi. Suwar). 

Most of the KMMS maps occur in the context of geo- 
graphical treatises devoted to an explication of the world, in 
general, and the lands of the Muslim world, in particular. 

These "map manuscripts'" generally carry the title oi Kitab al 
bill Tin n in ed 

Surat al aril (Picture of the earth) or Suwar al-aqaliiii (Pic- 
tures of the climes/climates). These manuscripts emanated 
from an early tradition of creating lists of pilgrim and post 
stages that were compiled for administrative purposes. They 
read like armchair travelogs ol the Muslim world, with one 
author copying prolifically from another. 

Beginning with a brief description of the world and 
theories about it — such as the inhabited versus the uninhabited 
parts, the reasons w in people are darker in the south than in 
the north, and the like — these geographies methodically 
discuss details about the Muslim world, its cities, its people, 
its roads, its topography, and other such features. Sometimes 
the descriptions are interspersed with anecdotal matter, in- 
cluding tales of personal adventures, discussions with local 
inhabitants, or debates with sailors as to the exact shape of the 
earth and the number of seas. They have a rigid formal that 
rarely varies: first the whole world, then the Arabian Penin- 
sula, then the Persian Gulf, then the Maghreb (North Africa 
and Andalusia), Egypt, Syria, the Mediterranean, upper and 
lower Iraq, as well as twelve maps devoted to the Iranian 
provinces, beginning with Khuzistan and ending in Khurasan, 
including map.; of Sind and Transoxiana. The maps, which 
usually number precisely tw enty one, follow exactly the same 
format as the text and are thus an integral part of the work. 

The al-Balkhi Tradition and Controversy 

Not all these geographical manuscripts contain maps, how- 
ever. Rather, maps are found only in those referred to 
generally as part of the al Balkhi/al Lslakhri tradition — the 
"Classical School" of geographers. This particular geographical 
genre is also referred to as the "Atlas of Islam." A great deal of 
mystery surrounds the origins and the architects of this 
manuscript bound cartographic tradition. Tins is primarily 
because not a single manuscript survives in the hand of its 
original author. Furthermore, it is not clear who initiated the 
tradition of accompanying geographical texts with maps. 

Scholars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries hold 
that Abu Zayd Ahmad ibn Sahl al-Balkhi (d. 934), who— as his 
nisba (patronym) suggests — came from Balkh in Central Asia, 
initiated the series, and that his work and maps were later 
elaborated upon by Abu Ishaq ibn Muhammad al Farisi al 
Isiakhri (fl. early tenth century) from Fstakhr in the province 
of Fars. Al-Istakhri's work was, in turn, elaborated upon by 
Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn llawqal (11. second half of 
tenth century), who came from upper Iraq (the region known 
as i he /,■/::/;•.-/). Abu 'Abdallah Muhammad al Muqaddasi (il. c. 
1000), from Jerusalem ((Juds), is considered the last innova- 

The prol)lem is thai virtualh no biographical information 
exists on the authors other than al-Balkhi. One is forced to 
rely on scraps of information in the geographical texts them- 
selves for information about their authors. The difficult) is 
compounded by the fact that, in all the forty-three titles that 
Ibn al-Nadim credits to al-Balkhi, not one even vaguely 
resembles the title of a geographical treatise. According to the 
biographers, al Balkhi was famous as a philosopher and for 
his tafsir (commentaries on the Qur'an) — in particular one 
known as Na'm al-qufan — which was praised by many judges. 
He is not, however, known in the biographical record for his 
geographical treatises. Yet stories of how al-Balkhi sired the 
Islamic mapping tradition endure. It is for this reason that the 
genre is generally referred to as the "Balkhi school of map- 
ping." The attribution of a whole school of mapping to a 
shadowy, ur\ thical lather who was anything but a specialist on 
geography or cartography is unfounded. 

The confusion is further compounded by the fact that 
many of the surviving copies contain either incomplete 
colophons (inscriptions containing attribution of authorship) 

or no colophons at all. Additionally, the lexis are sometimes 
so mixed up in the surviving manuscripts that it is often 
difficult to disentangle them. The numerous incomplete and 
anonymous manuscripts, sometimes abridged, alongwilh the 
versions translated into Persian, onh cloud the matter further. 

Images of Other Worlds 

Since none of the KMMS manuscripts date back to their 
original authors, the issue of authorship of the first carlo 
geographical manuscript and precisely what it looked like is 
immaterial. What is relevant is dial these geographical manu- 
scripts include some of the earliest piclographic images of the 
world in an Islamic context. Since all images are socially 
constructed, these iconic carlo ideographs contain valuable 
messages of the milieux in which they were produced. They 
are a rich source of new information that can be used as 
alternate gateways into the Islamic past. They can tell about 
the time period in which they were copied, and provide hints 
about the period in which they were originally conceived. 

Since die extant examples stretch in time from the elev- 
enth century to the nineteenth, and range from the heart of 

the Middle East to its peripheries, they provide us with 
insights from a broad range of time and space. The earliesl 
extant set of Islamic maps comes from an Ibn Hawqal manu- 
script housed at the Topkapi Saray Museum Library firmly 
dated to the year 1086 by a clear colophon. Counterinluilively, 
this manuscript also contains the most mimetic maps of all 
the existing KMMS copies. This version of the KMMS even 
has an extraordinary triple folio fold out map of the Mediter- 
ranean, indeed, il is tile world map version of this manuscript 
that proliferates in a more embellished form via the Ibn al- 
W'ardi manuscript copies from the fifteenth century. The 
striking mimesis of these maps stands in shirk contrast to the 
maps of the later KMMS copies, which over the 
ny pretense of mimesis entirely. 

After the KMMS set, a series of more and more stylized 

maps emerges that move further into the realm of objects d' 'art 
and away from direct empirical inquiry. By the nineteenth 
century the KMMS maps become so stylized that, were it not 
for the earlier examples, it would be hard to recognize them as 
the maps at all. Between these two extremes there are a series 
of KMMS world maps thai range from somber in form and 
color (some even contain grid:,) to outright gaudy and lacking 
in fine detail. In the crevices of these maps the real and the 
imaginary, the terrestrial and the cosmographical, and the 
empirical and the fictional dance confusingly in front of 
people of today. 

An ancient map appears in the volume one color insert. 

Sec also Biruni, al-; Ibn Battuta; Ibn Khaldun; Persian 
Language and Literature. 


Cosgrove, Denis, ed. Mappings. London: Reaktion Books, 1990. 

Goodrich, Thomas. Tin i ' nan Turks and tin New World: A 

Study of'Tai ih 1 1 > i nth-Century Otto- 

man Americana. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1990. 

1 lapgood, Cha rles 1 1. Ma) I l Evid 

of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age. New York: E. P. 
Dutton, 1979. 

Harley, J. B., and Woodward, David, eds. The History of 
Cartography: Cartography in the Traditional Islamic and 
South Asian Societies. Chicago: University of Chicago 
Press, 1992. 

! i i ! ' \. World M i I'm i i 

1 t / / ' /,/ Ida inn Science 

Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1999. 

J I I I Ii / 

Writings and Selected Minor Works. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1954. 

Mcintosh, Greg. The Piri Reis Map of 1513. Athens: Univer- 
sity of Georgia Press, 2000 

Sezgin, Fuat. Geschichte Des Arabischen Schrifttums: 
Mathcmatischi Gi n u/d 1 >/>/i im Islam mid 

Ihr Fortkben im + lbciidhiud. llistoriscbc Dnrstellung. Frank- 
furt: Institut fur Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen 
Wissenschaften an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe- 
Universitat Frankfurt am Main, 2000. 
meek, Sval . 1 P > i \Lipiini < 

London: The Nour Foundation, 1996. 

Karen C. Pinto 


Central Asia is a modern geographical designation covering 
an area of considerable political, ethnic, ami linguistic diver 
sity, but marked by a distinctive cultural synthesis rooted in 
the meeting of the civilization of Inner Asia with that of the 
Middle East and the Islamic world. In term:-, of contemporary 
political boundaries, it comprises the newly independent 
post-Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, 
Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as well as adjacent parts of the 
Chinese province of Xinjiang, of northern Afghanistan, of 
northeastern Iran, and of the Russian Federation. 

The chief historical regions comprising Central Asia in- 
clude Mawarannahr, often called Transoxiana or Transoxania, 
the traditional heartland; the Farghana valley; the Tarim 
basin, often called Chinese or Fast Ttirkistan and now form 
ing the major part of the province of Xinjiang in the People's 
Republic of China; the Syr Darya valley, with its commercial 
oasis towns; the steppe regions to the north known since the 
eleventh century as the Dasht-e Qipchaq; the region of the 
Amu Darya delta to the south of the Aral Sea, known 
historically as Khwarazm; and Khurasan, typically regarded 
as the northeasternmost province of Iran, but more often 
closely linked with Transoxiana in political, ethnic, and 

From the Arab Conquest to the Mongol Invasion 

The Arab conquest of Iran brought Muslim armies to 
Khurasan, and raids were conducted as far as Balkh and into 
Transoxania already during the 650s, as Arab governors 

based first in Basra in Iraq and later (from 66V) in Alan began 
the dual policy of establishing garrison towns in some areas, 
with Arab families transplanted from Iraq, and elsewhere 
leaving local dynasts in power as tributary rulers. A new stage 
in the conquest of Central Asia began with the appointment, 
in 705, of Qutayba b. Muslim as the governor of Khurasan. 
Qutayba's ten-year career brought the military conquest of 
Bukhara and Samarkand as well as of Khwarazm, and the 
initiation of campaigns into Farghana and as far beyond the 
Syr Dan a as Islijab; it also saw important institutional devel 
opments, as Arab garrisons were established in Bukhara and 
Samarkand, troops were levied from the local population to 
serve with the Muslim armies, mosques were built in these 

These patterns of Arab rule established under Qutayba 
proved more enduring than his conquests. Following his 
murder by mutinous troops in the Farghana valley in 715, 
Arab control in Transoxania was soon rolled back, and nearly 
a quarter-century passed before the Muslim armies were able 
to take the initiative again. Local rulers such as the Sogdian 
king Ghurak regained their independence and successfully 
fought the Arabs, but a new force from the steppe — the 
Turgesh confederation — posed a more serious threat to Arab 
control. The Turgesh were able to raid deep into Transoxania 
and eventually into Khurasan as well. The death of the 
Turgesh ruler in 737, however, led to the collapse of his 
confederation; Ghurak died the same year, and soon after- 
ward a new Umayyad governor of Khurasan, Nasr b. Sayyar, 
was able, during the 740s, to reconquer central Transoxania. 
the Farghana valley, and parts of eastern Khurasan that had 
reverted to local rulers, and to lead successful campaigns as 
far as Tashkent. 

Soon, however, the Abbasid revolution, a movement that 
took shape militarily in Khurasan, swept the Umayya< is from 
power; Abbasid agitation there began even before the arrival 
uf the fam< >us Abu Muslim in 747, and both the Arab colonists 
in Khurasan and Transoxania and local converts to Islam 
played significant roles in the success of the Abbasid cause. 
Disa flection w itii I 'may) ad rule n as particularly strong among 
the local converts, resentful of policies that relegated them to 
a subordinate status vis-a-vis the Arabs. Nevertheless, the 
series of religiously tinged revolts that broke out in Transoxania 
and Khurasan beginning in the late Umayyad era continued 
through the first decades of Abbasid rule. Abbasid control in 
Central Asia in fact remained tenuous until the revolt of Rafi' 
b. Layth beginning in 806. This revolt posed such a serious 
threat that the caliph himself, Harun al-Rashid, was com- 
pelled to set out to deal with it. Following his death in 809, his 
son al-Ma'mun, installed as governor in Marv, succeeded in 
suppressing it, and after his elevation as caliph in 813, al- 
Ma'mun — still based in Marv — conducted a series of decisive 
campaigns against independent local rulers that may be 
regarded as the culmination of the Arab conquest of Cen- 
tral Asia. 

Almost as soon as it was solidified, Abbasid control in 
Central Asia devolved upon local governors loyal to the 
caliph and at leasi nominally dependent upon him, ( )ne of the 
participants in al-Ma'mun's suppression of the revolt of Rafi c 
b. Layth was one Tahir b. Husayn, whom the caliph ap- 
pointed governor of Khurasan in 821. The Tahirid dynasty 
ruled Khurasan and Transoxania until its destruction in IK i 
by the Saffarids of Sistan. Members of the Sarnanid farnih 
also took part in al-Ma'mun's campaigns, and served the 
Tahirids as governors in Samarkand, farghana. and Tashkent. 

Samanid dynasts expanded their power through campaigns 
deep into the steppe, and with the collapse of the Tahirids 
received caliphal recognition as the rightful governors of 
Transoxania. The real foundations of the dynasty's power 
were laid by Isma'il Samani, who destroyed the Safiarids in 
900 and established Bukhara as the center of his realm. The 
dramatic decline in the political importance of the Abbasid 
caliphs that preceded the Samanid era (900-999) left the 
Samanids the rulers of an essentially independent state based 
in Central Asia; their patronage of religious and cultural 
instil titions made tenth-century Central Asia one of the most 
vibrant and influential parts of the Muslim world. 

Well into the first half of the tenth century, the Samanids 
retained their ability to project their power into the steppe to 
the north and northeast of Transoxania, but the Samanid era 
also brought crucial developments in the political and cul- 
tural history of the Turks of Central Asia. The tenth century 
marks the beginning of the large scale involvement of 'J tirkic 
peoples in Islamic ch ilization. Before this time, Turks from 
Central Asia had ahead) played an important role in Muslim 
history as military slaves active at the caliphal court in 
Baghdad as well as other, more westerly parts of the Muslim 
world. The institution of Turkic m ilitan slaves would remain 
an important avenue for the assimilation of Turkic (and 
other) peoples into Islamic civilization, and, beginning with 
the Ghaznavids, would yield a substantial number of ruling 
dynasties from India to Egypt. Ultimately more important 
for Central Asian history, however, was the large-scale con- 
version to Islam by Turkic pei tples; this was happening along 
the frontiers of Samanid Central Asia, but the tenth century 
also saw the establishment of Islam in remoter regions of 
Turkic Inner Asia, far beyond the limits reached by Muslim 
armies. During the middle of the tenth century, a member of 
a Turkic dynasty based in East Turkistan, in the city of 
Kashghar, adopted Islam, evidently in the course of a power 
struggle with a rival member of the same dynasty. The 
narrative of his conversion, which was elaborated and cele- 
brated from at least the eleventh century to the twentieth, 
identified him as Satuq Bughra Khan. The convert was 
successful, and the dynasty, which has come to be known as 
that of the Qarakhanids, soon expanded its territories to the 
west, mm ing against die Samanid frontiers in the Syr Darya 
basin and, with the conquest of Bukhara in 999, effectively 
putting an end to the Samanid state. In this case, however, 
religious frontiers had shifted substantially; the Turks from 
the steppe who conquered sedentary Central Asia were al- 
ready Muslims, and the ulema of Bukhara are famously 
reported to have counseled the city's population that they 
were under no obligation to defend their Samanid rulers, 
insofar as the Qarakhanids were good Muslims. 

The Qarakhanids are of tremendous importance as the 
initial custodians of the Turkic/Islamic cultural synthesis and 
sponsors of the first Islamic Turkic literature. Qarakhanid 

patronage yielded the Turkic Qutadghu bilig, a "mirror for 
princes" completed around 1070 by Yusuf of Balasaghun for a 
Qarakhanid ruler of Kashghar. The Qarakhanids are also 
important, however, simply as the holders of power in much 
of Central Asia, at the regional and local level, for over two 
centuries. Even as supreme power in Central Asia shifted to 
the Seljtiks or the Qarakhitays or the Khwarazmshahs, local 
dynasties linked to the Qarakhanid tradition continued to 
rule in Samarkand, in parts of the Farghana valley, and in 
towns of the Syr Darya basin. The last known Qarakhanid 
dynast was removed by the Khwarazmshah Muhammad (tar- 
get of the Mongol invasion) only in 1209. 

Of even greater significance for the Islamic world at large 
was the third Muslim Turkic dynasty to appear in Central 
Asia during the Samanid era, that of the Seljuks. The Seljuk 
royal house emerged, in the latter tenth century, as tribal 
leaders among the Oghuz Turks who nomadized near the 
lower course of the Syr Darya, northeast of the Aral Sea. The 
narrative of Seljuk origins links their adoption of Islam to a 
power struggle, again with come i ion ignaling a break with 
their former overlord as well as an alliance against him with 
the Muslim people of the Syr Dan a tow n of J and. By the early 
eleventh century the Seljuks were involved in the military 
and political turmoil that accompanied the division of the 
Samanid realm between the Ghaznavids, in Khurasan, and 
the Qarakhanids, in Transoxania, and quickly dominated 
both regions, leaving the Qarakhanid dynasts as vassals but 
effectively crushing the Ghaznavid presence in Khurasan 
with their defeat ofMahmud's son and successor, Mas'ud, in 
1040 at Dandanqan, near Alan*. Thereafter the Seljuks began 
their phenomenal sweep through Iran and the Middle East, 
seizing Baghdad In 1055 and. defeating the Byzantines in 
Anatolia in 1071. 

Seljuk success in ( ienlral Asia ilselfw as less overwhelming 
than further west. By the first half of the twelfth century, 
Seljuk dynasts were plagued by the devastating raids, deep 
into Khurasan, of other groups of ( )ghuz ("Ghuzz") nomads 
who did not accept their rule, and the final blow to Seljuk 
power in the east came in 1 141, when the sultan, Sanjar, was 
defeated in the Qatvan steppe, northeast of Samarkand, by 
the Qarakhitays. The latter, remnants of the Qitan people 
who had dominated northern China (as the Liao dynasty) 
since the early tenth century, had fled westward after their 
ouster from China in the 1120s and dominated the steppe 
regions of Central Asia down to the Mongol conquest. The 
non-Muslim Qarakhitays were for the most part absentee 
overlords with regard to Transoxania, and most regions 
remained in the hands of local elites, whether Qarakhanid 
dynasts or, as in the case of Bukhara, a prominent family of 
Hanafi jurists known as the Al-e Burhan. 

The Qarakhitay defeat of the Seljuks provided an oppor- 
tunity for expansion by a dynasty of local rulers based in 

Khwarazm, whose ancestors had assumed control there in the 
service of the Seljnks. These Khwarazmshahs, under nominal 
Qarakhiun suzerainty, extended their power into Khurasan 
and into the lower Syr Darya valley, and by the beginning of 
the thirteenth century had become the most powerful rul- 
ers in the eastern Islamic world. The ambitions of the 
Khwarazmshah Muhammad (r. 1200-1218) led him to clash 
with the Ghurid d} nasty based south of the Hindu Kush, with 
the Abbasid caliph al-Nasir (who was intent on restoring 
the caliphate's political power), with his Qarakhitay over- 
lords, and finally with the new Inner Asian power, the 
A tongols under Genghis Khan. Muhammad's disastrous re- 
l)ii ff of the khan's diplomatic and commercial overtures led to 
the Mongol invasion that, from 1216 to 1223, devastated 
much of Transoxania and Khurasan and destroyed the 
Khwarazmian state. 

The Mongol and Timurid Periods, 1220-1500 

Mongol rule was established in Central Asia well before the 
subsequent Mongol campaign of 1256-1258, which destroyed 
the Abbasid caliphate and brought all of Iran and much of the 
Middle East under Mongol control. The impact of the 
Mongol conquest likewise endured much longer in Central 
Asia than elsewhere in the Muslim world, above all through 
the political principles established in the thirteenth cen- 
tury and maintained, in one form or another, down to the 
eighteenth. These principles made sovereignty a preroga- 
tive reserved solely for blood descendants of Genghis 
(Chinggis) Khan. They inaugurated a political tension — 
between Chinggisids with the theoretical right to rule, and 
powerful tribal chieftains with direct control over the nomadic 
military forces crucial to the Chinggisids's power — that would 
shape Central Asian political history down to the Russian 
conquest. The descendants of Genghis Khan alone could 
bear the sovereign title khan, and were known by the Turkic 
term oghlan (the "sons," par excellence). In the parts of the 
Mongol-ruled world that were Islamized, the princes of the 
blood who did not rise to supreme power (but always re- 
mained potential candidates for that role) were more often 
known by the Muslim term signaling sovereign authority, 
sultan. The tribal chieftains, by contrast, were known by the 
Turkic term bek or what came to be its Arabic equivalent, emir 
(with scions of the tribal elite referred to by the Arabo- 
Persian hybrid emir ztithi. that is, "born of an c///ir," typically 
shortened to mirza). 

As the Mongol empire splil along regional lines in the 
middle of the thirteenth century, different parts of Central 
Asia fell to different ruling lineages stemming from the four 
sons of Genghis Khan. Khwarazm, parts of the lower Syr 
Darya basin, and much of the Dasht-e Qipchaq came to be 
regarded as part of the realm (ulus) of the descendants of Jochi 
(the "Golden Horde"), centered in the lower Volga valley, 
while much of Iran was in the hands of the Ilkhanid realm 
centered in Azerbaijan, that was ruled by descendants of 

Genghis Khan's grandson, Hulegu, who had led the cam- 
paign of 1256-1258. The heartland of Transi ixania, as well as 
the Tarim basin, parts of Khurasan, and the eastern parts of 
the Dasht-i Qipchaq, were nominally part of the ulus of 
Cenghis's son Chaghalay, though in fact, through much of 
the second half of the thirteenth century, this region was 
dominated by Qaydu, a descendant of Genghis's son and first 
successor Ogodej . Not tin til the early fourteenth century did 
the Chaghalayid lineage reassert itself under the khans Esen 
Buqa and Kebek. In each of these western successor states of 
the Mongol empire, the process of Islamization was under- 
way already in the thirteenth century, and by the second 
quarter of the fourteenth century khans from each of the 
Chinggisid dynasties ruling there as well as members of the 
tribal aristocra and ordinary nomad bad becom Muslim 

By the 1330s, however, the Ilkhanid state was disintegrat- 
ing, and real power in most of the Chaghalayid ulus had 
reverted to the tribal chieftains, who made and unmade khans 
to suit their own ends. It was in the western part of the 
Chaghalayid realm that Timnr, an emir of the Barkis tribe 
based in southern Transoxania, rose to power during the 
1360s; within a decade he had succeeded in consolidating his 
power over Transoxania and Khurasan and had begun the 
career of conquest thai would make him master not only of 
Central Asia, but of Iran and much of the Middle East as well, 
culminating with campaigns as far east as Delhi and as far 
west as Ankara. Following Timur's death in 1405, his descen 
dants were able to maintain control only over his Central 
Asian domains, in Transoxania, Iran, and Khurasan (where 
Herat soon emerged as a cosmopolitan center of cultural 
patronage). The Timurid state in Central Asia fractured soon 
after the death of Timur's son and successor Shahrukh in 
1447, with separate branches of the Timurid. lineage holding 
power in Khurasan and Transoxania. 

The Uzbek Era, 1500-1865 

Timur, though not a Chinggisid, clearly sought to evoke the 
legacy of Genghis Khan's conquests during his lifetime, and 
his successors likewise cultivated their Inner Asian heritage 
alongside their patronage of Islamic institutions. Never- 
theless, the Timurids were regarded as usurpers by real 
Chinggisids, and the principal challenges to his rule in On 
tral Asia, and to that of his descendants, came from the 
nomads of the Dasht-e Qipchaq, ruled by Chinggisids iron) 
the lineage of Jochi. By the time of Timur, the Turkic 
nomads of the eastern half of the Dasht-e Qipchaq, who 
belonged to what remained of the Jochid ulus (i.e., the 
"Golden Horde"), had come to be known by the designation 
Uzbek (ozbek); the origin of this appellation is obscure, but is 
ascribed by indigenous tradition to the impact of the adop- 
tion of Islam by Ozbek Khan of the Golden Horde (r. 

mur himself faced invasions into his domains by nomadic 
:s from the northern steppe led by various Jochid rulers 

and tribal chieftains.Timur's efforts to secure stability and 
peace on his northern frontier were continued by his succes- 
sors; Shahrukh succeeded in securing Klin arazm by 1413, but 
his son Ulugh Beg's meddHng in Jochid affairs led to his 
serious defeat by one would lie khiin near Sighnaq in 1427. 
Shortly after this event, a young prince from the lineage of 
Shiban (the fifth son of Jochi), named Abu '1-Khayr Khan, 
succeeded, with the aid of the powerful chieftains of the 
Manghit tribe, in establishing his power over most of the 
Uzbek tribes of the Dasht-e Qipchaq, and established a 
confederation strong enough to challenge the Timurids and 
influence internal Timurid politics. 

The Qalmaqs. This first Uzbek confederatii in v, as shaken by 

attacks from the Qalmaqs (i.e., the Kalmyks or Oyrats, 
western Mongols) in the mid-fifteenth century, and collapsed 
after Abu '1-Khayr Khan's death (c. 1469), but the founder's 
grandson, known as Muhammad Shibani Khan, succeeded in 
reformulating a substantial part of the coalition by the end of 
the fifteenth century. As internal dissension weakened the 
Timurid state in Transoxania, Shibani Khan succeeded in 
conquering Samarkand and Bukhara in 1500, consolidated 
his hold on Transoxania and seized Khwarazm by 1505. He 
moved across the Amu Darya to attack the Timurids in 
Khurasan soon after the death of the last powerful Timurid, 
Sultan Husayn Bayqara, seizing the Timurid capital, Herat, 
in 1507. His ambitions were cut short late in 1510 when he 
was defeated and killed in battle with the Safavid ruler Shah 
Isma'il near Marv. The Safavid victory led to a virtual!) total 
withdrawal of Uzbek forces from Transoxania. Within two 
years, however, the Uzbeks, led by Muhammad Shibani 
Khan's nephew Uliaydullali ?,i\ia other descendants of Abu '1- 
Khaj r Khan, had expelled the Sallu id forces and their Timurid 
supporters (including Babur, who would found the Mogul 
empire of India) from Transoxania. Khurasan became a 
battleground between the Safavids and the Uzbeks, with 
Herat changing hands several times during the sixteenth 

The Qazaqs. The Qazaqs with whom Muhammad Shibani 
Khan fought were of precisely the same ethnic stock as his 
Uzbek followers; the name qazaq ("freebooter") had been 
applied pejoratively to the components of Abu '1-Khayr 
Khan's Uzbek confederation who broke with Abu '1-Khayr 
and followed other Chinggisids out of his coalition. The 
essential!) political, rather than ethnic, distinction between 
Qazaq and Uzbek remained somewhat fluid through the 
sixteenth century. After their Uzbek kinsmen moved with the 
Shibanids or oilier Chinggisids into Transoxania, Khwarazm, 
and Khurasan, the Qazaqs occupied the Dasht-e Qipchaq, 
and continued their large-scale, seasonal pastoral nomadic 
migrations. The Qazaqs too were ruled by Chinggisid sul- 
tans, and came to be divided into three loosely affiliated units 
(zhiiz) known in the West as "hordes." The middle Syr Darya 
valley became the focus of frequent wars between the Qazaq 

Chinggisids and the Uzbek khans of Transoxania, with low ns 
such as Tashkent, Sayram, and Turkistan held by the Qazaqs 
through much of the seventeenth century. 

The 'Arabshahids. In Khwarazm, meanwhile, a separate 
Chinggisid dynasty supported by Uzbek nomads from the 
Dasht-e Qipchaq took power following the ouster of the 
Safavid forces that occupied the region after the defeat 
of Muhammad Shibani Khan. This dynasty, often referred 
to as the Arabshahids, extended its control to the south, 
into Khurasan, during the middle of the sixteenth century, 
and maintained power in Khwarazm to the early eight- 
eenth century. One of its members, Abu '1-Ghazi Khan (r. 
1643-1663), is known for his harsh measures against the 
Turkmen nomads inhabiting the frontiers of the Kliwarazmian 
oasis, for his reorganization of the Uzbek tribes of Khwarazm, 
and for the two historical works he wrote in Chaghata} Turkic. 

The polity in Transoxania and, later, in parts of Khurasan 
that was reformulated in the kinsmen ofMuhammad Shibani 
Khan following the defeat at Marv, was not a centralized 
state, much less an empire, but rather a collection of loosely 
linked appanages assigned to Chinggisid princes who took 
part in the conquest. There were thus separate and essentially 
co-equal Chinggisid sultans based in Samarkand, Bukhara, 
Tashkent, Balkh, and oilier appanages, with the senior mem 
ber of the extended ruling clan recognized as khan. The 
equilibrium that maintained this decentralized system broke 
down in the 1 5 50s, and gave way to bitter struggles amon g t h e 
princes that culminated in the gradual, and bloody, consoli 
dation of power by 'Abdallah Khan. The latter's success in 
eliminating rivals meant that when his son was murdered 
shortly after 'Abdallah's own death in 1598, the tribal chief- 
tains and urban elites of Transoxania were compelled to seek 
a Chinggisid khan from an altogether different Jochid line 
age, one that had recently been dislodged from its hereditary 
realm along the lower Volga by the Russian conquest of the 
commercial emporium of Astrakhan. This dynasty, known 
variously as that of the Janids, the Ashtarkhanids, or the 
Toqay Timurids ruled Transoxania and Balkh until ! 74', . 

Despite the stability seemingly implied by the long reigns 
of Ashlarkhanid rulers such as Imam Quli Khan (r. 1611-1642), 
AJbd al-Aziz Khan (r. 1645-1681), Subhan Quli Khan (r. 
1681-1702), and Abu '1-Fayz Khan (r. 1711-1747), this era 
saw the steady erosion of the khans's authority in favor of 
powerful tribal chieftains, and the steady diminution of the 
state itself. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, the 
power of the Chinggisid khans had been seriously weakened 
both in Khwarazm and in Transoxania, to the benefit of the 
tribal aristocracy, and political instability was exacerbated by 
economic dislocation and external military threats. In par- 
ticular, the renewed success of the Mongol Junghars (Oyrats) 
in the Dasht-e Qipchaq sent waves of Qazaq refugees into 
Transoxania in the 1720s, devastating the region's agricul- 
tural base and prompting in turn the flight of much of the 

sedentary population there into the Farghana valley and 
other areas. The Junghar threat also induced some Qazaq 
Chinggisids to seek protection from the Russian empire, and 
the formal submission of these khans later served as a pretext 
for the extension of Russian control over the Qazaq steppes. 

The Afghan Turkmen. The political and military weakness 
of Central Asia was further underscored by the invasion of 
Nader Shah, the warlord of the Afshar tribe of Turkmens 
who seized power in Iran in 172S. driving out the Afghans 
who had put an end to the Safavid dynasty six years earlier. 
His conquest of Bukhara and Khwarazm in 1740 helped 
launch the final stage in the transition to the new dynasties of 
Uzbek tribal origin that v. ould rule much of Central Asia into 
the second half of the nineteenth century. In Bukhara, a 
chieftain of the Manghit tribe who had formerly served the 
weak Asliiarkhanid ruler Abu ] 1-Fayz Khan had the latter 
ruler deposed and killed soon after Nader Shah's assassina- 
tion in 1747. In Khwarazm, Nader Shah's conquest led to an 
extended period of profound disorder, culminating in the 
occupation of the capital, Khiva, by the Yomut tribe of 
Turkmens in 1768. In this case it was a chieftain of the 
Qonghral tribe, u ho likewise had idled important stale posi 
tions under the Chinggisid khans there, who succeeded in 
driving out the Yomuts and restoring order. The Manghit 
and Qonghrat dynasties thus established ruled Bukhara and 
Khiva, respectively, even after the Russian conquest, surviv- 
ing as protectorates of the Russian stale until 1920. 

Nader Shah's career also set the stage for the emergence 
of Ahmad Shah Durrani (r. 1747-1773), the Afghan warlord 
who was able to seize the regions of Balkhand Herat to add to 
his base in Qandahar and Kabul, and thereby forged the basis 
for modern Afghanistan ; the A 1 a ngh its of B ti k ltara continued 
to contest the loss of Balkh, however, and permanent Afghan 
control of the region that became known as 'Afghan Turkistan" 
was not secured until the middle of the nineteenth century. 

The Khanate of Qoqand. In the Farghana valley, finally, 

another Uzbek tribal d\ nasty look shape in lite first half of the 
eighteenth century, as chieftains of the Ming tribe made the 
town of Qoqand (or Khuqand) their base and extended their 
control throughout the valley; this region proved to be the 
most economical!) dynamic area of Central Asia during the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the Ming dynasty 
was able to exploit the valley's agricultural and commercial 
wealth to build a state that became the most powerful in 
Central Asia during the first half of the nineteenth century. 
Under 'Mm Khan (r. 1798-1809) and his brother c Umar 
Khan (r. 1809-1822), the khanate of Qoqand expanded to the 
north, seizing Tashkent and the towns of the middle Syr 
Darya; further Qoqandian expansion into the Dasht-i Qipchaq 
brought both Qazaq and Qirghiz nomads under the khanate's 
control, and led inevitably to a confrontation with the Rus- 
sian empire, which was expanding into the same regions from 

The khans of Qoqand were also closely involved in affairs 
of East Turkistan, where political structures had developed 
quite differently from those of western Central Asia in the 
Uzbek era. There, dynasts of the lineage of Chaghatay had 
withstood challenges from both the Timurids and the Uzbek 
Chinggisids to the west, and from the Mongol Junghars to 
the north, down to the late seventeenth century. Shifting 
political alignments involving rival branches of a family of 
Naqshbandi khivajas (descendants and Sufi successors of a 
sixteenth centnn shaykli ofTransoxania known asMakhdum e 
A'zam), which had been established in the region from the 
late sixteenth century, contributed to the conquest of the 
region by the Junghars in 1681, putting an end to the 
Chaghatayid dyrtasU , Thejunghars installed Afaq Khwaja (d. 
1694), leader of the Aqtaghliq ("White Mountain") khwaja 
faction, as their governor in Ivashghar. Struggles between the 
khwaja factions continued alter his death, leading thejunghars 
first to deport the leaders of both factions, and. later to switch 
their support to the rival Qarataghliq ("'Black Mountain") 

The Manchus. By the middle of the eighteenth century, 

however, khwaja contenders were seeking support against the 
Junghars through the grow ing power of the Manchu empire 
(the Qing dynasty of China). The climactic struggle between 
the Manchus and the Junghars for domination of the Inner 
Asian heartland culminated in the total destruction of the 
Junghar state in 1758. The khwaja state too was destroyed, as 
the Manchus incorporated both the Tarim basin and the 
Junghar homeland into their empire (it would become known 
as the "New Province," Xinjiang, of Chin I but h ( 
lineages continued to stir up rebellions among the Muslims of 
the region, with the active support, beginning in the 1820s, of 
the khans of Qoqand based in the Farghana valley. A major 
uprising of Chinese Muslims from 1862 to 1876 kept the 
Qing dynasty occupied as the Qoqandian adventurer Ya'qub 
Bek carved out his own state, with the support of an Aqtaghliq 
khwaja based in Kashghar. The suppression of the revolt led 
to the Qing reconquest of the Tarim basin by 1878. The 
Turkic Muslim population of East Turkistan was able to 
reassert its independence sporadically following the collapse 
of the Manchu dynasty in 1911, with several attempts to 
create an East Turkistan Republic during the 1930s and 
1940s. The Chinese communist victory in 1949 led to the 
region's incorporation into the People's Republic of China as 
die jni 1 iu> ' yghui Vutonornous Region. The PRC's colo 
nization policy brought a massive influx of ] Ian Chinese that 
has reduced the Muslim component to approximately 60 
percent of the region's population. 

The Russian Conquest and the Soviet Era, 1865-1991 

During the late eighteenth century and the first half of the 
nineteenth, the rulers of the Uzbek tribal dynasties in the 
three khanates of western Central Asia — Bukhara, Khiva, and 
Qoqand — were succeeding where the Chinggisid khans had 
long failed: They crushed the power of the tribal chieftains, 

instituted military reforms thai lessened their dependence on 
the tribal forces, created a more centralized bureaucratic 
apparatus lor state administration, and concentrated far more 
power in their own hands than any Chinggisid khan had held 
for centuries. Despite this period of relative revitalization, 
however, the three Central Asian khanates were hopelessly 
outmatched militarily by the expanding Russian empire. 

Russian commercial ties with Central Asia had developed 
extensively from the latter sixteenth century, as the conquest 
of the last successor states of the Golden Horde opened 
Siberia to Russian conquest. By the latter eighteenth century, 

Russian encroachment from the Volga- Uralvalle} and Sibe- 
ria had reduced the Qazaqs to vassal status. The suppression 
of Qazaq revolts in the 1830s and 1840s brought Russian 
forces into the Syr Darya valley, where they attacked 
Qoqandian outposts already in the 1850s. 

The outright military conquest of southern Central Asia 
followed die freeing of Russian military resources by the end 
of the Crimean War, and by the suppression of Muslim 
resistance in the North Caucasus. Russian troops moved 
against the towns of the middle Syr Darya valley in 1 864, and 
seized Tashkent in 1865. Operations southwest of Tashkent 
brought confrontations with Bukharan troops, culminating 
in the Russian capture of Samarkand in 1868 and the estab- 
lishment of a Russian protectorate over the khanate ol Bukhara. 
A Russian force marched on Khiva in 1873 and forced a 
similar arrangement on the Qonghrat khan, further defeats 
of Qoqandian forces brought the submission of that khanate 
as well, but repeated revolts and social unrest in Lite Farghana 
valley led Russian officials to dissolve the khanate of Qoqand 
in 1876 and bring its territories under direct Russian rule. 
The Turkmen nomads to the south of Khwarazm put up a 
suffer resistance, surrendering to Russian control only after a 
massacre of Turkmen men, women, and children at Gok 
Tepe, near modern-day Ashgabat, in 1881. By 1895, negotia- 
tions between the Russian and British empires had defined 
the southern border of the Russian holdings in Central Asia, 
corresponding to the present-day borders of the Central 
Asian republics with Iran and Afghanistan 

Russian rule at first brought few changes to the daily lives 
of Central Asian Muslims, but growing contacts between 
Russians and Central Asians, as well as economic changes 
brought on by increased trade with Russia, led to the emer- 
gence of small native circles intent upon revitalizing local 
society through educational and cultural changes. Following 
the 190 rt olulion in Ru i ill' e group kn na indidisti 
a term applied to reformist Muslims throughout the Russian 
empire — became increasingly concerned with political is- 
sues, and it was from among them that the Russian Bolsheviks 
would find their first allies among the native population 
following the revolutions of 1917. These reformist circles 
were important for launching the reevaluation of c 

identities and mores that would create the modern Soviet 
nations of Central Asia. The Bolshevik victory in the Civil 
War was followed, in Central Asia, by an administrative 
reorganization that reflected both practical concerns and 
Lenin's rhetoric a bout national self determination. This "na- 
tional delimitation" drew borders for the new people's repub- 
lics, in part on the basis of older administrative units, but in 
part on the basis of ethnographic and linguistic surveys 
conducted by scholars and officials using a somewhat arbi- 
trarily chosen set of ethnic and national designations. The 
basic work was done by 1924; changes in the hierarchical 
status of the units thus created, within the system of union 
republics, autonomous republics, and autonomous regions 
thai comprised the ethnically defined structures of the USSR, 
continued until 1936, leaving five union republics — the Kazakh, 
Uzbek, Kirgiz, Tadzhik, and Turkmen republics (using the 
Russianized names that were official through the Soviet 
period) — in western Central Asia. 

Soviet policy demanded the strict subordination of na- 
tional identities to the construction of socialist society. How- 
ever, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s local elites were 
able to develop considerable autonomy in republican affairs, 
and, within limits, to give expression to Sovietized national 
cultures. In the 1980s Soviet reformers sought to rein in the 
entrenched national bureaucracies, citing corruption and 
abuses < if power in the republics. Increasing!} vocal national- 
ist movements demanded the assertion of cultural and politi- 
cal rights, culminating in declarations of sovereignty by all of 
the Central Asian republics. With the failed coup attempt of 
August 1991 and the dissolution of the USSR later that year, 
each of the republics declared independence. By that time, 
however, the local communist elites had co-opted the nation- 
alist movements and ensured their hold on power, now as 
nationalists rather than communists. The 1990s saw, in all the 
Central Asian republics, a rollback of political rights asserted 
during the last years of the Soviet regime, the often brutal 
stifling of political dissent, and the total monopolization of 
power by the former republican communist parties, now 
appropriately renamed. At the same time, the republican 
elites appeared to be committed to the enterprise of nation- 
building, understanding their power to be rooted in existing 
political structures rather than in any revolutionary transfor- 
mation of the prevailing conceptions of communal identity, 
which those structures served to reify. 

See also Central Asian Culture and Islam; Commu- 
nism; Reform: Muslim Communities of the Russian 


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Central Asia played a pivotal role in the early debates about 

« hat u meant to he a Muslim, as the early practical experience 
of negotiating relations with the local population on the 
Central Asian frontiers left its mark in the developing con- 
sensus about the conditions for membership in the Muslim 
ity, and for enjoyment of the prh ileges it entailed. 

Islamization in Central Asia 

Already in the eighth century there were signs of the domi- 
nance of the inclusive approach toward membership in the 
Islamic community thai would prevail throughout the history 
of Islamic Central Asia. Local resentment grew over the 
unequal treatment often accorded new converts by L'mayyad 
governors who, in response to declining revenues, toughened 
requirements for conversion and even rescinded the remis- 
sion of thejizya, the poll tax on non-Muslims, promised to 
prospective converts. This helped turn the region into the 
staging ground for die Abbasid revolution. In doctrinal terms 
it lent support to the view that formal affirmation of faith and 
of affiliation n ith the Muslim community was sufficient to be 
regarded as a member of the iwima in good standing, even if 
the people thus brought into the fold were not proficient in 
practice or clear on details of doctrine. This principle, articu- 
lated in the movement of the Murji'a that gained wide 
support in Khurasan and Transoxania (Alawarannahr), was 
later enshrined inllanafi juridical thought, which dominated 
Central Asian life from the ninth century to the twentieth 
century. It thereby shaped the process of Islamization in 
Central Asia, not only among the sedentary rural and urban 
population, but along the steppe frontiers as well, where the 
process of conversion appears to have begun in many cases 
with the establishment of social bonds between Muslim 
townspeople and nearby Turkic nomadic communities. This 
gave the killer a formal affiliation w ith the uiiinia. with details 
of practice and belief to be worked out later. 

There was considerable religious diversity in Central Asia 
at the time of the Arab conquest, and it persisted in later 

times. Manichean communities were active in Samarkand 
until the tenth century, Christian groups can be traced into 
the fourteenth century, and Buddhism was not supplanted 
from the northeastern part of the Tarim basin until the 
fifteenth centun . Despite the frequent setbacks to Islamization 
in Central Asia, the region became quite early on a major 
center of Islamic learning, literature, and art. 

Cultural Patronage and Religious Scholarship 

The full flowering of Islamic science and literature, in Persian 

and Arabic, came in the tenth century under Samanid patron- 
age. The Samanid court at Bukhara sponsored the Persian 
poets Rtidaki and Daqiqi, and the compilation of the Shtibntiiiic 
(Book of kings) by Firdawsi (who later enjoyed Ghaznavid 
patronage as well); Arabic poetry was also cultivated, as were 
translations from Arabic and other languages into Persian. 
The Samanids also patronized scientific endeavors, building 
on traditions that had produced pivotal works instrumental in 
the development of astronomy and mathematics in the Islamic 
world at large, and later in western Europe as well. Whereas 
in the ninth century scholars of Central Asian origin, such as 
Muhammad b. Mtisa al Khwarazmi, Abu Ma'shar al Balkhi, 
and Abu 'Abbas Ahmad al-Farghani, were drawn west to 
Baghdad, Samanid patronage kept these figures" successors at 
home, so to speak, and made tenth-century Bukhara the scene 
of a remarkable intellectual synthesis marked especially by 
scholars of encyclopedic breadth. The compendium of all 
branches of scholarship known as the Miifutih til 'ilium was 
produced for the Bukhara n court In Abu Abdallah Muham- 
mad al Khwarazmi, and an important tradition oi geographi- 
cal study was sponsored by Samanid officials. The encyclopedic 
tradition shaped the work of the remarkable Khwarazmian al 
Biruni (d. 1048), who distinguished himself in the natural 
sciences as well as in history and geography, and who later 
served the Ghaznavid sultans Mahrnud and Alas'ud as well. 
The illustrious polymath Ibn Sina (d. 1037), especially re 
nowned in medicine and philosophy, spent his formative 
years in Samanid Bukhara. 

Perhaps the most important contribution of pre-Mongol 
Central Asia to the religious culture of the larger Islamic 
world, however, lies in scholarship on hadith and in the 
juridical sciences and theology. Already in the ninth century, 
under the Tahirids, Central Asia produced several of the 
compilers of the major collections of hadiths regarded as 
authoritative throughout the Muslim world, above all the two 
pivotal traditionists, Muhammad b. Isma'il al-Bukhari (d. 
870), u ho lived much of his life near Samarkand, and .Muslim 
b. Hajjaj of Nishapur (Ar. Nisabur) (d. 875). The growth and 
development of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence, which 
came to dominate interpretation -:>x\<\ application of the sbtni'a 
in much of the Ottoman-ruled world and in the Indian 
subcontinent, was largely the work of Central Asian scholars. 
Central Asia has been predominantly Ilanafi in its juridical 
orientation throughout the Islamic period. There was a 

limited, but important, Shafi'i presence in some areas. The 
region of Tashkent became a bastion of the Shafi'i school 
(and produced the noted tenth-century jurist Abu Bakr Qaffal 
al Shashi), as did the town ofTaraz, « hile parts of Khwarazm 
were predominant!) Shafi'i until well after the Mongol con- 
quest. Already before the Samanid era, however, the suprem- 
acy of the Hanafi school in Bukhara, and in the rest of 
Transoxania, was credited to the imam Abu I lafs al-Bukhari 
(d. 877), and from the tenth century to the fourteenth, 
Transoxania was by far the most productive region of the 
Muslim world in terms of the scholars and books that would 
define the Hanafi tradition. 

The Samanid era saw the formulation of the theological 
school associated with the name of Abu Mansur Muham- 
mad al Maturidi (d. c. 944) of Samarkand. His theological 
elaborations, on a Hanafi foundation, defined the lines of 
religious thought that dominated the eastern Islamic world 
for centuries and, with the active support of Seljuk patronage, 
became firmh established in the Middle East beginning in 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It was the era of Seljuk 
patronage, indeed, that produced many of the great classics of 
Hanafi jurisprudence in Transoxania. The central works 
include the Usui of Fakhr al-Islam 'Ali b. Muhammad al 
Pazdawi (d. 1089), the Mabsut and Usulal-fiqh of Muhammad 
b. Ahmad al-Sarakhsi (d. c. 1096), known as "Shams al- 
A'imrna," and the llichiyti of Burlian al Din 'Ali al Marghiiiani 
(d 1 19/). The activities of Hanafi jurists extended to juridical 
and civil administration as well, and hereditary transmission 
of the estates and power they were able to amass was com- 
mon. The most famous case is the family known as the Al-e 
Burhan in Bukhara, whose members were recognized as the 
chief civil authorities in the city even by the non-Muslim 

The Mongol conquest naturally meant a setback for the 
institutional foundations of Islamic religious culture, and for 
state involvement in the application and interpretation of the 
sbari'a, but its impact on religious Hie was not as far-reaching 
as is often supposed. If the transmission of juridical traditions 
in Central Asia is considered there is little evidence of any 
substantial disconlinuitj coinciding with the establishment of 
Mongol rule. With the conversion of the Mongol elites to 
Islam, patronage of Islamic scholarship, literature, art, and 
architecture expanded. During the fourteenth century a num- 
ber of important Turkic religious works were produced and 
dedicated to khans and tribal chieftains of the Jochid and 
Chaghatayid realms. Timur patronized religious scholars as 
well as artisans and poets, often bringing prominent figures 
from the regions he conquered hack to his capital in Samarkand, 
and scholars such as Sa'd al Din Taftazani (d. 1390) and 'Ali 
Jurjani (d. 1413) thus worked for a time in Transoxania; on 
the other hand, sonic jurists found the cultivation of the 
Mongol heritage under Timur and his successors abhorrent 
and quit the Timurid realm for the Ottoman state or other 

parts of the Muslim world. By the Timurid era, in any case, 
the Hanafi school's dominance in Central Asia had become a 
iilu 1 in rropol I 1 i j jnridii I i hoi u hi| < onliritii I in 
Transoxania into the twentieth century, until the closure of 
all madrasas by the Soviets in the late 1920s. Early in the 
Uzbek period, patronage of the religious sciences took on a 
new political importance in light of the emergence of the 
Shi'ite state of Safavid Iran. The ulema of Transoxania 
supported the Uzbek rulers by declaring the Qizilbash to be 
the equivalent of infidels, thereby justifying the constant 
raiding and open v. arfare in Khurasan through the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries. The religious frontier thus estab 
lished was rarely an insurmountable obstacle to commerce or 
intellectual exchange, Iilu nevertheless set the further (level 
opment of religious culture in Central Asia apart from its 
traditional connections to Iran 

Sufism in Central Asia 

The most important religious development of the post- 
Mongol era was the rise of Sufi communities organized 
according to the principle of the silsila or chain of spiritual 
transmission, and their emergence as important factors in 
political and economic history. The history of Sufism 
(tasawwufi in Central Asia down to the Mongol conquest 
remains poorly studied, but it appears that by the tenth 
century a number of originally independent mystical cur- 
rents, some with local roots and some imported from outside 
Central Asia, had coalesced under the designation of ttistnnvttf. 
In the eleventh and twelfth centuries major new patterns of 
Sufi activity and organization appear with the career of Abu 
Sa'id b. Abil-Khayr (d. 1049) of Mayhana, in present-day 
Turkmenistan, who cultivated a high public profile in 
(jhazrravid Nishapur, and with the hereditary Sufi tradition 
of Ahmad-e Jam (d. 1141), whose natural descendants re- 
mained prominent well into the Uzbek era. 

The Mongol and Timurid periods saw the crystallization 
of Sufi traditions that would dominate religious life in Cen- 
tral Asia down to the nineteenth century, in the form of 
organized orders that emerged around silsilas traced back to 
the prophet Muhammad through prominent saints of the 
thirteenth century. One was the Kubravi tradition, whose 
eponym, Najm a! Din Kubra, died in 1221 during the Mongol 
attack on his native Khwarazm. Another was the Yasavi 
tradition, named for Khv, aja Ahmad Yasa\ i. w hose center of 
activity was the middle Syr Darya valley. The Khwajagani 
tradition emerged in the thirteenth century as well, among 
the disciples of Khwaja Alid al Khaliq Chijduvani, from a 
town near Bukhara. This tradition produced a lineage that 
became known as the Naqshbandiyya, after Baha' al-Din 
Naqshband of Bukhara (d. 1389). Representatives of these 
and other traditions were engaged in vigorous competition 
with one another, for court patronage and for popular sup- 
port, in the context of the political and social turmoil of 
Transoxania and Khurasan in the fourteenth century. As part 

of that competition, many groups appear to have experi- 
mented wiih different wars of legitimizing the authority, and 
efficacy of their specific ritual and devotional practices and 
their claims of spiritual preeminence, appealing to visionary 
sanctions of various sorts, hereditary transmission, demon- 
strated spiritual results, and other signs in addition to the 
sikilti. which would become the normative mode of legitimation 
b) the latter fifteenth century. Some of these Sufi communi- 
ties, moreover, were actively engaged in Islamization, not in 
the sense of changing the beliefs of the Turkic nomads who 
became based in southern Central Asia through the Mongol 
l (though this may ha\ e happened as well), but in the 
of forging social and economic bonds with nomadic 
; that were undergoing the profound dislocations 
of the Mongol era (i.e., tribal reorganization and adaptation 
to the enclosed nomadism of Transoxania and Khurasan). 

By the late fifteenth century, the Naqshbandiyya was 
emerging as the dominant Sufi tradition of Central Asia, 
largely through the efforts of Khwaja 'Ubaydullah Ahrar, a 
native of Tashkent who spent much of his life in Timurid 
Samarkand, and who exemplified the political engagement 
and the cultivation of economic power that became the 
hallmark of the Naqshbandi order. At the same time, the 
Naqshbandiyya was beginning its expansion beyond Central 
Asia, into the Ottoman Empire and the Indian subconti- 
nent. The decentralized polity of the early Uzbek era fa- 
vored intensified competition among representatives of the 
Naqshbandi. Yasavi, and Kubravi orders, but Naqshbandi 
dominance was assured by the second half of the sixteenth 
century. From then until the early eighteenth century, the 
Naqshbandiyya was a truly pervasive influence in all aspects 
of Central Asian political, economic, and cultural life. 

The eighteenth century saw important changes in relig- 
ious life, beginning with the introduction of the Mujaddidi 
(renewal) current of the Naqshbandi order, u Inch had taken 
shape in seventeenth-century India, into Central Asia. The 
Mujaddidiyya offered an alternative source of legitimation 
for rulers seeking to counter the limitations on their power 
imposed by entrenched urban and tribal elites, and several 
Mujaddidi shaykhs were closely allied with khans of the 
Alanghil and Ming dynasties in promoting religious "re- 
form" in a way that undermined traditional Sufi groups and 
the popular practices associated with them. The late eight- 
eenth and nineteenth centuries saw several reform efforts of 
this type, which entailed the condemnation of many long- 
established religious practices that had diffused from Sufi 
circles into the larger society as un-Islamic innovations. Local 
Sufi traditions survived, however, as did the local customs 
fought by the reformers, and the real blow to Central Asia's 
legacy of Sufism came only with the Soviet era. 

Pilgrimage and Shrine Culture 

One of the most characteristic features of Islamic religious 
practice in Central Asia, and one that linked the lower classes 

with the religious and social elites, was the widespread phe 
nomenon of pilgrimage (ziyarat) lo Minus's shrines (mazars). 
This phenomenon was closely linked, but never entirely 
coterminous, with the spread of Sufism. Shrine-centered 
religious practice is evidenced already in the tenth century, 
and by the twelfth century there is extensive information on 
the large numbers of shrines in Khurasan in die hagiographies 
focused on the life of Abu Sa'id b. Abu '1-Khayr. From the 
same century dates the incident of the discovery of the 
reputed grave of Ali near Balkh, under the Seljuks, suggest- 
ing already the political ramifications of cultivating shrine 
traditions, as well as the compilation of the earliest guide to 
hob, places in Central Asia, entitled Lata'if al-azkar. by a 
member of the Al-e Burhan of Bukhara. By the Mongol era, 
shrine culture was well entrenched, and appears to have 
played some role in the acculturation of the Mongol elites and 
ordinary nomads to the Muslim environment. Ibn Battuta 
reported that even pagan Mongols brought offerings to the 
shrine of Qutham b. 'Abbas, the famous martyered Shah e 
zinda in Samarkand, and there is some evidence of shrines 
serving as portals, in effect, for passage from the world of 
Mongol administrative service to the devotional and contem- 
plative life of Snlism. .In the fifteenth century, a shrine guide 
for Bukhara included a defense of the practice of ziyarat, but 
the legitimacy and efficacy of pilgrimage to saints's shrines 
were taken for granted through most of Central Asian his- 
tory. The reform efforts of the early nineteenth century 
targeted some practices associated with shrines, and the 
Soviets directed intense, and destructive, antireligious meas- 
ures against them, but in neither case were there permanent 
inroads into the public consciousness of shrines and their 
many roles. The collapse of Soviet antireligious efforts in the 
late 1980s led to a remarkable revival of ziyarat, including the 
reconstruction of numerous shrines as well as the "rediscov- 
ery," by quite traditional methods (not unlike those that 
revealed Ali's burial place in the twelfth century), of long- 
forgotten sites. 

The centrality of shrine-centered religious practice in the 
daily lives, and in connection with die most pressing human 
needs, of the majority of Central Asian Muslims is a major, 
and visible, part of the complex of normative religious cus- 
toms that characterized traditional life in Islamic Central 
Asia. Other elements of this complex are more difficult to 
trace in literary sources from earlier centuries, but it seems 
clear that, during the Uzbek period at leas'. , religious trends 
that were evident already in the Mongol and Timurid eras 
were solidified and became the standard features of tradi- 
tional Islamic life down Lo die social and religious upheavals 
launched by die Soviet regime in Central Asia during the laie 
1920s. Some of these elements include the continuation of 
madrasa-based juridical education in such cities as Bukhara, 
which continued to attract students from among Muslim 
nthe Russian empire as well as from India and 

Afghanistan; the expansion of Muslim education and literacy 
into the nomadic regions, especially among the Qazaqs; the 
incorporation of shrines and sacred lineages into the religious 
practice, social structure, and epic traditions of the nomads; 
the prominence of hereditary religious and social prestige in 
families linked to eminent local jurists and, especially, Sufi 
saints of the past; the permeation of kinship structures and 
communal life by elements of Sufi practice and thought; and 
the expansion of religiously defined and regulated occupa- 
tional organizations in urban and rural environments, inte- 
grating the basic elements of craft production into a spiritual 
worldview that infused labor and its fruits with sacrality and 
religious meaning. 

See a/so Central Asia, Islam in; Maturidi, al-; Pilgrim- 
age: Ziyara; Tasawwuf. 


Basilov, V. N. "Honour Groups in Traditional Turkmenian 
!o ien In hhmi in 1 I 1,111 the Atlas to the 

Indus. Edited by Akbar S. Ahmed and David M. Hart. 

London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984. 
Bulliet, Richard W. The Patricians of Nishapur: A Study in 

Medieval Islamic Social History. Cambridge, Mass.: i Iarvard 

University Press, 1972. 
Gross, J-Ann, and Urunbaev, Asom. The Letters of ' Khiva ja 

'Ubayd Allah Ahrar and His Associates. Leiden: Brill, 2002. 
Aladehing, Wilferd. "The Spread of Maturidism and the 

Turks." In Actus do TV Congresso des Estudos Arahes et 

Islam icos, Coimbi ' 1 eiden Brill, 1971. 

Malamud, Margaret. "Sufi Organizations and Structures of 
Authority in Medieval Nishapur." International Journal of 
Middle East Studies 26 (1994): 427-442. 

Sviri, Sara. "Hakim Tirmidhi and the Malmali Movement in 
Early Sufism." In 11 1 From its Origins 

to Rumi. Edited by Leonard Lewisohn. London and New 
York: Khaniqahi Nimatullahi Publications, 1993. 

Devin DeWeese 


Childhood in Islam, like childhood in any great religious 
tradition, is seen generally as a period of education and 
training, a time of socialization for the future adult. The child 
is seen as the crucial generational link in both the religious 
community and the family unit, the key to its continuation, 
the living person that ties the present to the past. The idea of 
childhood, the place of the child, the duties of the child are 
basic issues and have been since the beginning of Islam. 
Childhood ends in a formal sense at the age of puberty, when 

performance of the religions dunes (Five Pillars) marks the 
ritual passage into the early stages of adulthood. 

Socialization of the child takes place primarily within the 
family unit, the home, and the father and mother are ulti- 
mately responsible for their offspring. However, grandpar 
ents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are also expected to participate 
in a child's rearing and usually did so in the past. Religious 
socialization also lakes place in the home (for hoys and girls) 
and in the mosque (for boys) but also in the Qur'anic school 
or kuttab (for boys and girls). A knowledge of the QuCan is 
deemed necessary for a child's religious development, and 
most parents, even the poorest, try to send their sons and 
daughters to the kuttab. 

Socialization for values of the society begins even earlier, 
as soon as a child is conscious of others. These valu 
somewhat according to geographical, historic, a 
differences within Muslim communities but in general they 

are designed to develop V/c//or reason in the child and to make 
the child mu'addab, one who is polite and disciplined. In the 
Arab world, a child is ta tight respect for food, for religion, for 
the kin group, hospitality to gtiests, and. above all, respect for 
and obedience to the authority of the father. 

Most Muslim societies might be classified as patrilineal 
(the exception being parts of Southeast Asia, in which a 
matrilineal descent is observed). In the reckoning of one's 
descent in patrilineal societies, one's kin-group membership 
passes through the male line on the father's side. This means 
that all children retain their lather's name throughout their 
lives, but a daughter, unlike a son, cannot pass membership 
on to her children, Male and female descendants inherit from 
the father, according to the specifics of Islamic legal codes. 
This hierarchical organization means that the oldest male, 
father or son, Ik >lds amh< irity over his descendants, but is also 
the primary economic provider for the group, and thus 
controller of the group's economic resources. In exchange, 
the male head of household is expected not only to provide 
for but to protect the group, including sons and daughters, 
throughout their lives. 

The period of childhood socialization is marked by ritual 
events, both religious and secular: ceremonies surrounding 
birth and naming: circumcision, for all boys and some girls; 
graduation from Qur'anic school, particularly for boys; and 
finally marriage. Marriage is the crucial step in tying individ 
ual members to the group, and the birth of children confers 
on the newly united pair full membership in the family unit 
and in Islam. "When a man has children he has fulfilled half 
his religion, so let him fear Cod for the remaining half," states 
one of the hadiths of the prophet Muhammad. 

Further, throughout childhood, there is strong socializa- 
tion for future roles in the family and the Muslim 

from a very early age, children are given responsibilities. 
Girls are expected to help in the home and care for siblings; 
boys may be asked to help in family business or on their 
father's farm. This traditional picture, in practice, is chang- 
ing, as people in the Muslim world become more mobile, and 
as the family group becomes more attenuated. The father is 
still seen as head of household, but the mother frequently 
shares economic responsibilities In working outside the home, 
and this places stress on family expectations for both sons and 
daughters. Free public education has supplemented, but not 
replaced, Qur'anic education for all children. 

Still, the basic approach to childhood as a time of learning 
rather than as a carefree time for play remains. To become a 
full member of the Islamic community, a child is expected to 
learn the Qur'an, respect parents, and gradually assume 
responsibilities 'within the famih -.uv..\ the religious commu- 
nity, so that the untutored child becomes the disciplined 
Muslim adult. 

See also Circumcision; Education; Gender; Marriage. 


( ihazzali, Muhammad ibn Muhammad. Abi Ilamid al ■-. Ayyiihti 
al-Walad. Cairo: Dar al-Ptisam, 1983. 

Warnock Fernea, Elizabeth, ed. Children 
East. Austin: University of Texas Pre 

i the Muslim Middle 
;, 1995. 

Elizabeth Warnock Fernea 

CHINA See East Asia, Islam in 


The history of Christian-Muslim or alternatively Muslim- 
Christian relations began at the inception of Islam in the first 
half of the sixth century of the Common Era. As Islam began 
to spread beyond the Arabian Peninsula soon after the death 
of the prophet Muhammad in 632 c.e., the encounter be- 
tween Muslims and Christians entered a new phase of mili- 
tary, political, and social interactions. A century later, while 
these kinds of interaction continued along the already far- 
n Islamic empire spreading from 
new patterns emerged within both 
majority Christian and majority Muslim polities. They re- 
flected the weight of different theological and political con- 
texts on daily social life, leading to a variety of mostly 
polemical and apologetic stances that Christians and Muslims 

flung borders of the r 
Spain to the Indus rivet 

developed regarding- each other. This religious and political 
mix came to a head during the period of the major Crusades 
(twelfth to thirteenth centuries c.e.), creating the subsequent 
dominant paradigm in Christian -Muslim relations, the re- 
percussions of which are still felt to this day, and especially 
since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. But not all 
historical periods or geographical locations were the same; 
pockets of mutually beneficial encounters existed here and 
there on both sides of the transient political borders. More- 
over, the history of Christian Muslim relations has not un- 
folded in isolation from other religious and, more recently, 
nonreligious worldviews. 

The Period of the Prophet Muhammad's Life: Circa 
570-632 c.e. 

The history of the prophet Muhammad's life is difficult to 
ascertain with precision. Through a careful examination of 
pre islamic poems, the Qur'an, early hadith, and biogra 
phies, all of which have entailed in the past century serious 
debates as to their validity as historical sources, it is neverthe- 
less possible to suggest a likely course of events in this first 
period of Muslim-Christian encounters. Prior to 610 c.e., the 
year when the prophet Muhammad received the first Qur'anic 
revelation, his encounters with Christians probably took 
place during his caravan trips into greater Syria, as the 
tradition of his meeting with the Christian monk Bahira 
would indicate. There may also Inn e been occasional encotin 
ters with Christians of unknown theological leanings passing 
through Mecca. The biography of the prophel Muhammad 
mentions other kinds of encounters, not all of which are 
historically verifiable. For instance, soon after 610 c.e., the 
Prophet met with Waraqa ibn Nan fal, who was a cousin of 
the Prophet's w ile Ivhadija. Waraqa ibn Naw lal was a Chris- 
tian scholar who confirmed the Prophet's mission. Another 
encounter is said to have occurred in 615 c.e., when early 
converts to Islam migrated for a short while to the Christian 
kingdom of Axum (Abyssinia). In 628 c.e., a delegation of 
Christians from the town of Najran in South Arabia came to 
visit the Prophet in Medina, and sometime before the Prophet 
died, in 632 c.e., he would have sent letters to existing rulers 
such as the Byzantine emperor Heraclius and the Negus of 
Axum, as well as the Sassanian emperor Chosroes. These five 
■s demonstrate a variety of possible or imagined en- 
1 of which have been used for various goals in 
Muslim Christian relations, both atthe time of their produc- 
tion and in subsequent interpretations. 

The varieties of (Jur'anic passages addressing Christians 
directly or indirectly (as people of the book, together with 
Jews, for example) reflect the transforming nature of the 
prophet Muhammad's encounters with them as his own 
status changed over time. The same applies to the other two 
religious systems he interacted with in Arabia: Judaism and 
Meccan polytheism. In all three cases, the variation in tone, 
from tolerance to polemics, seems to reflect the extent to 

which his prophetic message was being accepted or rejected 
at each moment of his reception of Qur'anic revelations, a 
process that lasted about twenty-three years. In terms of 
Christianity in particular, there is at best a conditional ac- 
ceptance of Christians, and at worst a judgment associating 
them to both shirk' (polytheism/idolatry) and knfr (unbelief). 
The various Christian voices referred to in the Qur'an are, for 
the most part, not reflective of the major Christian theologies 
that Muslims would come to encounter soon after the death 
of the prophet Muhammad, in 632 < .i . These rnisperceptions 
of mainstream, seventh-century Christian theologies, by be- 
ing preserved in the Qur'an, negatively predisposed subse- 
quent generations of Muslim interpreters of Christianity. A 
contextual sociopolitical reading of these various passages, 
harking back in part to the old Islamic hermeneulical princi- 
ple of abrogation (in which later Qur'anic revelations must 
take precedence over prior ones), is one way to make sense of 
their variety and, at times, contradictory nature. This is 
especially important when the passages are juxtaposed 
ahistorically, either within the period of the Prophet's life or 
for contemporary ideological purposes. 

The First Islamic Conquests: 632-750 c.e. 

During the Islamic empire's first phase of rapid expansion, 
between 632 and 750 c.e., two numerically important relig- 
ious systems become incorporated under Muslim politi- 
cal control: Eastern Christianity, both Chalcedonian (i.e., 
Byzantinian) and non Chalcedonian (especially Monophysite 
and Nestorian), and Zoroastrianism. By then, Jews consti- 
tuted only a small minority of the population scattered across 
the new ly conquered areas, and dill not represent any political 
threat. The first to try to i i ike n if Islam a die t ehgion of 
their new Muslim rulers were Eastern Christians, since West- 
ern (thai is, Roman) Christians were not affected directly by 
the Muslim conquests until the later part of this period, and 
mostly in the Iberian Peninsula lying at the Western fringe of 
the new Islamic empire. In all cases, however, Christians 
perceived Islam within their own respective theological 
worlds iews. As early as around 660 c.e., the arrival of Arab 
Muslims is interpreted In; the Monophysite Armenian bishop 
Sebeos as a judgment of God in light of Genesis 21:12-13, 
according to which Muslims are identified as Arab descen 
dants olTlagar and her son Ishmael, who were promised by 
God to become a great nation. This theological interpre- 
tation was linked to a political situation wherein most 
Monophysite and Nestorian Christians welcomed the arrival 
of Arab Muslims, for it put an end to then- political subordina 
tion to the Byzantine Christians. As the new rulers took 
control over the course of the eighth century, new interpreta 
tions developed. For both Monophysites and Xestorians, 
Islam came to represent a judgment on the part of God 
against those w ho accepted the Chrislological definitions of 
the Council of Chalcedon (451 c.e.). As for those Eastern 
Christians under Muslim control who continued to support 

The Tomb of St. John the Baptist in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, which was built on an earlier church, is said t 
the Baptist, valued by both Muslims and Christians. Over the centuries, despite much polemical opposition and violen 
maintain many important similarities and have shared many positive encounters. Art Archive/Dacli Orti 

i house the skull of |ohn 
e, Christianity and Islam 

the Byzantine or Chalcedonian theology, such as the Melkite 
John of Damascus, they came to describe Islam as a Chris- 
tian heresy. 

The early Muslim conquerors followed the r 
built toward the end of the Prophet's life: The first phase of 
interaction with Christians (and Jews) was confrontational, 
and all Jews and Christians were expelled from the Arabian 
Peninsula. It was not until the later seventh and eighth 
centuries, when Muslim political conquests began to take 
root in majority Christian and Zoroastrian areas, that more 
lenient attitudes and practices developed, legitimized by a 
retrieval of the earlier and more tolerant Qur'anic passages 
toward Christians in particular. These interpretations and 
legal elaborations were needed to formalize the relationship 
of Muslims to the Christians and Zoroaslrians who formed a 
majority of the population in their respective western and 
easier;] halves of the lien (Islamic) t hnayj ad Empire (661-750 
c.e.). This new political context also explains why, to the 
theological concept of the people of the book (abl al-kitab), 
used by the prophet Muhammad to link the Jewish, Chris- 
tian, and Islamic notions of divine revelation, was added a 
parallel and pragmatic concept of the people of the protective 

covenant (ahl al dhimma), erroneous!) understood by some 
today as second-class citizenship. This concept was based on 
two Qur'anic references (9:8, 10) initially referring to idola- 
ters in general. This covenantal concept helped regulate 

Christians, Jews, and Zoroaslrians as political minorities who 
received protection from ruling Muslims in exchange lor poll 
taxes. Yet, the situation and opportunities for advancement 
varied tremendously from one individual Christian to an- 
other, and from one geographical area or historical period to 
another. For example, many educated Christians reached 
high positions of povvei d tiring the Umayyad and subsequent 
Abbasid dynasties, especially in the fields of medicine, phi- 
losophy, and administration. 

The Stabilizing of Relations: 750-1085 c.e. 

In the three centuries that followed the takeover of the 
central Islamic lands by the Abbasid dynasty in 750 c.e., 
the Islamic world rose to its apex of cultural, religious, 
in I loliti il efllon em I hi re t hi ' in much 

tolerance toward its internal religious minorities in gen- 
eral, albeit within an Islamic dhimmi paradigm of power. 
The translation of mostly Greek and Syriac philosophi 
cal and scientific works into Arabic during the middle of 

the ninth century culminated in the establishment of Caliph 
Al-Ma 3 mun's (786-833 c.e.) bayt al-hikma (house of wis- 
dom). It was later directed by the Nestorian (Christian trans- 
lator Hunayn ibn Ishaq (809-873 c.e.). As a positive 
example of Christian Muslim relations at the center of the 
Abbasid Empire, the biiyt ill ' hikniti internally promoted intel- 
lectual pursuits of truth and resulted in a striking degree of 
inlerreligious tolerance and mutual influence, especially among 
the educated elite. Externally, as the empire's borders contin 
ued to be disputed, a pronounced antagonism arose among 
both Western European and Byzantine Christians, who feared 
the power of the then greatest empire on earth. Among 
Western Christians, the most obvious dev eh ipment was linked 
to the slow Rccon/itiistn efforts in Spain that culminated in the 
Christian takeover of Toledo in 1085. This movement was 
fueled by very negative anti-Islamic rhetoric. As for Byzan- 
tine Christians, the continuing warfare also helped sustain 
more polemical \ iev, s of Islam, building on the earlier notion 
that Islam was a heresy with the difference that authors now 
had access to original Qur'anic and other Arabic writings (or 
translations of them) to sustain their polemical arguments. 
Yet, some Byzantine writers were more moderate, acknowl- 
edging some similarities between Christianity and Islam, 
such as the common Stasis in monotheism. 

During the same period, an equally diverse spectrum of 
views on Christianity emerged aim n > " lti lirn While there 
was better access to mainline Christian theologies, greater 
knowledge did not always result in greater tolerance and 
understanding. Many factors explain the rise in Muslim 
polemical attitudes toward Christianity: changing demo- 
graphic realities, wherein Christians were still the majority in 
many central areas of Islamdorn, but the balance ofnumerical 
power was gradually shifting in favor of Islam; changing 
theological realities within the Muslim community, includ- 
ing the search for Islamic legitimization in Biblical roots; 
social competition, especially in times of economic difficul- 
ties; and the need to defend Islam against other major 
worldviews. But not all Muslim perceptions of Christianity 
were polemical, and not all Muslim authors lived in situations 
where the above factors were equally present. As different 
Christian theologies produced different perceptions of Islam, 
so did different Islamic theologies (Mu'tazili, Ash an. Alaluridi, 
traditionalist. Sufi, and so on) produce different perceptions 
of Christianity. 

The Period of the Crusades: 1085-1300 c.e. 

After the fall of Toledo in 1085, Western Christians became 
embolded by the successes of what they have called the 
llecoiiquista. Their success was in sharp contrast to the Eastern 
Byzantine Christians, who had suffered great territorial losses 
at the hands of the Muslim Seljuk Turks in the aftermath of 
the battle of Manzikert in 1071. A decade later, Byzantine 
emperor Alexius (r. 1081-1118) took power and later re- 
quested help from Western Christians to fight back the 
Muslims. Pope Urban II responded with the preaching of the 

first Crusades in Clermont, France, in 1095. By the fall of 
1096, a people's expedition was galvanized by Peter the 
Hermit. Numbering about twenty thousand, it ended up 

disintegrating before lea\ ing Europe, In its v, ake, however, it 
left a trail of suffering. Many lives were lost, and whole Jewish 

At the same time, an amalgamation of five armies from 
different parts of Western Europe responded to the call: they 
numbered between fifty and sixty thousand. They crossed 
over into Asia Minor in 1097, captured Antioch in 1098, and 
conquered Jerusalem on 15 July 1099. The Christian popula- 
tion of Jerusalem had been expelled from that city in fear of 
treachery just prior to the Crusader conquest. The Muslim 
governor, together with some of his military garrison, was 
allowed safe-conduct at the moment of the conquest, but the 
remaining Muslim and small Jew ish civilian populations w ere 
massacred: More than forty thousand lives were taken. In 
contrast, when Saladin re-conquered Jerusalem in 1187, no 
blood was spilled upon entering the city. By 1302, the 
Crusaders had gradually lost control of all their small princi- 
palities on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. 

In contrast to this military approach to .Muslim-Christian 

relations, smaller but significant rapprochements were taking 
place from the eleventh century onwards. They allowed for 
the transmission of knowledge from the Islamic world into 
Christian Europe, with the translation of Arabic works into 
Latin. This began primarily in Spain and Sicily with the 
rediscovery of the ancient Greek heritage, now greatly en 
riched by centuries of Muslim c 
ment took place in both older 
educational establishments such as language schools, col- 
leges., and universities, first in Bologna, Salerno, Montpellier, 
Paris, and Oxford prior to 1200 With this rapid increase in 
efforts to understand the Muslim world, with key figures such 
as the Italian Francis of Assisi (1182-1226 c.e.) and the 
Spaniard Raymond Lull (c. 1232-1316 c.e.), important seeds 
of the later fifteenth- and sixteenth-century European Ren- 

•e sown in the very midst of an internal Christian 

> the Crusades. 

The New Balance of Power: 1300-1500 c.e. 

The defeat of the first Crusades did not end the desires of 
European Christians for expansion, nor did it stop certain 

Muslims from continuing their o\\ n. The ReaiiKjuistti gradu- 
ally expanded to include the whole of the Iberian Peninsula, 
ending ■« ilii tile fall of the last Muslim kingdom in Grenada in 
1492. At the other end of the Mediterranean, Ottoman 
expansion crossed over into southeastern Europe in 1354, 
eventually ending the Byzantine Empire with the capture of 
Constantinople in 1453. They won the battle of Kosovo in 
1389 and Nicopolis in 1396, making them rulers of the 
Balkans. The expansion stopped at the gates of Vienna in 
1529. A similar siege took place again in 1683, demonstrating 

the strong Ottoman pressures on Central and Eastern Europe 
for over a century and a half. 

At the same time, by the end of the fifteenth century, the 
tithv mi i irope in esp |W lb laniard ind P< tu 
guese, gained new strategic power through three combined 
discovers Christophei oltimbu "discover} oflheAmeri 
cas in 1492; Vasco de (iiiina s na\ igation around Africa -s ia die 
Cape of Good Hope in 1497, which opened up a new spice 
trading route to Southeast Asia that avoided central Muslim 
lands; and Magellan and PigafeUa's westward circumnavigation 
of the earth by 1 522 c.e. These discoveries suddenly enlarged 
the predominantly Mediterranean geographical scope of the 
first eight centuries of Christian-Muslim interactions into 
the beginnings of a global one, adding new Christian mis- 
sionary pressures, especially in West Africa as well as South 
and Southeast Asia, where Muslim rule had been gradually 
expanding for centuries. 

The New European Christian Rise in Power: 
1500-1800 c.e. 

In the sixteenth century, the rapid takeover of ocean routes 
worldwide ushered in a new age of European Christian 
power. It resulted in a gradual encroachment on increasingly 
vast areas of inhabited lands through a forceful combination 
of military, political, economic, and missionary activities. 
While these new, long-term processes were unfolding on the 
peripheries, the Ottoman Empire continued to be a threat to 
the central and eastern European Christian powers and the 
Mughal Empire slowed down European incursions into 
South Asia. 

In between the Ottoman and Mughal empires, the Safavid 
Empire (based primarily in Iran) vied for control of central 
Islamic lands. Dynamic internal Muslim transformations 
continued to flower along traditional lines, both within those 
three centralized empires and on many peripheries of Islamic 
expansion, especially in sub Saharan Africa, and in southeast 
ern and northwestern Asia. However, few understood the 
significance of the new technologies that led to the magni- 
tude of the European encroachment along many peripheries 
of the Islamic world and their disruption of traditional inter- 
nal sources of economic revenues, such as the spice and silk 
roads, due to new ocean trade routes. These technological 
threats were also ideational and symbolic, as with the new 
missionary efforts to spread worldwide the already embattled 
forms of European Christianity, even when conducted with 
greater sensitivity to local customs, as exemplified in the 
efforts of the first Jesuits in the later half of the sixteenth 
century in India, China, and Japan. These combined proc- 
esses would subsequently increase in speed and depth, leading 
to tension and confrontation between Muslims and Chris- 
tians worldwide on a much wider scale. 

The Period of European Colonialism and Western 
Imperialism: 1800 onward 

With Napoleon's brief conquest of Egypt in 1898, Europeans 
embarked on a political and military trajectory that would 

gradually make them colonial masters not only over majority 
Muslim countries, but over almost the entire planet. While 
this surge in European colonialism was particularly successful 
among the British, French, Dutch, and Russians, n ho dh ided 
up among themselves most of the Islamic world, it still 
remained strong among the older imperial powers of Spain 
and Portugal, while the newer national polities of Italy, 
Germany, and Belgium also vied for their share of the world. 
A few Muslim areas retained a degree of political indepen- 
dence, such as what later became Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and 
(to a lesser degree) Iran, which had to balance pressures from 
the British in the south and the Russians in the north, a 
prelude to the later pressures of the Cold War by their 
respective successors the United States and the Soviet Union. 
Thanks in part to large oil revenues, both Saudi Arabia and 
Iran would later become the launching pads for two dis- 
tinct, transnational, and ami- Western Islamic political ide 
ologies confronting Western imperialism: Khomeinism and 
Wahhabism. The first began with the Iranian Revolution of 
1979 and the latter produced as one of its offshoots the 
extremist al Oa'ala, with the resulting terrorist attacks on key 
symbols of American global hegemom on 1 1 September 2001 , 

Intertwined with the growing European colonialism of 
the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Christian 
missionary movement continued unabated, although it was 
now linked to a civilizational project of modernity under- 
stood as democracy and the rule of law within new nation- 
state structures. This European colonial project legitimized 
in the eyes of most Europeans their own increased militariza 
tion at home and the interconnected colonial control of 
peoples worldwide. European colonialism eventually frag- 
mented the world, including the Islamic parts of it, into 
unavoidable yet often unmanageable semblances of nation- 
states. This project had to do as much with older competing 
Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian identities as 
with newer, non-Christian philosophies (deism, atheism, 
utilitarianism, materialism, human rights, and the like), a 
point often misunderstood by many generations of Muslims 
who have reduced the modern West to Christianity. In turn, 
many Westerners, whether religious or not, have themselves 
simplistically essentialized the complexities of the Islamic 
world, wanting to believe that it is quintessential!}- mi 
modernizable. They have forgotten how many centuries it 
iooI M rn ii hoi i, nd Protestant Chrislianilii to >me 

to terms with modernity, and fail to consider the ongoing 
struggles of parts of the Orthodox Christian world, not to 
mention vast numbers of Christians in economically disad 
vantaged areas around the world. 

Orientalism is a long-standing, scientific tradition of in- 
terpretation of the Other developed in Western u 
especially in the nineteenth and twentieth c 
plain "Eastern"' realities from Morocco to Japan. This tradi 
tion reinforced the stereotype of Islam as unmodernizable. 
Orientalists only too often contributed to the rationale for 

colonial domination of the world, especially in Muslim areas. 
This explains why, since the late nineteenth century, many 
Muslims have become suspicious of efforts on the part of 
lion Muslim Westerners to interpret Islam. However, with 
increased migrations of Muslims from majority Muslim conn 
tries to the West and the increase in conversions to Islam 
among both European and U.S. citizens, especially among 
African Americans, together with die increased Westernization 
of important segments of majority Muslim countries, new 
Islamized Western and secularized Islamic identities have 
emerged in the last half century challenging the existence of a 
West/Islam dichotomj as was promulgated by orientalist 

In addition to colonialist and orientalist discourses, the 
already complex internal Western dynamic spawned new 

competing economic and political ideologies, such as liberal 
ism, socialism, and communism, eventualh spreading the 
Cold War (1950-1989) unto the rest of the non- Western 
world, into newly formed nations that were already strug- 
gling to define themselves in the new, postcolonial era. This 
resulted in various hybrid forms of political ideology, such as 
pan Arabism, Indonesian pancasila ideology, and the crea- 
tion of Pakistan along ethnic rather than religious lines (even 
though Pakistani identity was initially the effort to transform 
a South Asian Muslim identity into a national/ethnic one). 
For every national case, the Islamic heritage in majority 
Muslim countries was problematized differently, resulting in 
a variety of Muslim and Islamic nationalisms that rivals the 
variety of secular and Chrislo secular Western nationalisms. 

The greatest force underlying the modernization (often 
reduced to Westernization) process ensuing from Western 
colonialism and post-colonial economic imperialism, most 
recently known under the concept of globalization, has come 
in the name of science and has been linked to a philosophy of 
positivism. These combined claims to truth have reinforced 
the various new technologies with which they are associated. 
While most Muslims lias, e adopted Western scientific educa 
tion as part of various nationalist educational projects, this 
ever-rapid increase in scientific knowledge has continued to 
provide a secularizing West its military and political superi- 
ors , undermining traditional faith claims both a I the center 
of power in the West and on the Muslim and other peripheries. 

e to positivist science and liberal Christianity 
first developed in the United States in the second decade of 
the twentieth century, taking the form of Christian Protes- 
tant fundamentalism. Fundamentalism later spread around 

the world under different names ant! varying forms, resulting 
in the ideologization of anticolonial and. later, ami imperialist 
religious discourses. Eventually it fueled a few religious 
revolutions and coup d'etats, the most memorable being that 
of Iran in 1979. During the late 1980s and 1990s, another 
form of accommodation has led to the creation of a network 
of scholars engaged in the Islamization ofKnowledge project. 

But by the end of the Cold War in 1989, Wes 
Muslims had lost a common enemy in communism; they 
could now turn more directly onto each other, in what is still 
often reduced to a simplistic West versus Islam dichotomy. 

mostly among educated and cosmopolitan 
elites, the late twentieth century witnessed the emergence of 

a genuine Christian Muslim or Muslim Christian dialogue. 
This new movement stressed the importance of listening to 
one another and learning from each other's tradition. This 
process, carefully attuned to ensuring a better power dynamic 
between its participants, has often led to common statements 
by Muslims and Christians on a variety of issues. Sponsored 
at times by international religious organizations, govern- 
ments, or non-governmental organizations, these dialogues 
have opened up new avenues of understanding that aim to 
respect the differences and have built on the similarities that 
exist among Christians and Muslims. While participating in 
dialogue dot uotrequin a liberal theologii il point of view, it 
tends to attract religious people with such a perspective, often 
limiting the potential impact this approach could have on 
transforming the history of Christian Muslims relations to- 
ward one of greater understanding And cooperation given the 
wealth of information now available on their shared history. 


The history of Muslim Christian relations includes a wide 
spectrum of interactions encompassing all aspects of human 
life. Two extreme interpretations need to be avoided because 
they are wrong historically. The first is reductionism. It is 
dangerous to reduce this complex history to one of endless 
confrontations between essentialized conceptualizations of 
Islam and Christianity, treating them as mutually exclusive 
realities that turn even Christian and Muslim into unavoid- 
able enemies. The examples of constructive interactions 
between Muslims and Christians in both times of peace and 
war are too numerous to justify oversimplifying this history 
into one of militarj confrontations. The second danger is to 
deny the complex power dynamics that have always existed 
among Christians, Muslims, and others within Christian and 
post- Christian as well as Muslim and other societies. These 
dynamics reveal both destructive and constructive behaviors 
and patterns, as well as a spectrum of beliefs that range from 
inclusive to exclusive and are held bj both sides in what have 
become the two numerically largest religious identities today. 
Knowing this history requires a sensitive understanding at 
the dawn of a yet insecure future for the human race. 

See also Balkans, Islam in the; Crusades; European 
Culture and Islam; Islam and Other Religions; Juda- 
ism and Islam; Religious Beliefs. 


Bamyeh, Mohammed A Tht S< f 1 h 

Economy, Discourse. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota 
Press, 1999. 


Ridgeon, Lloyd, ed. Islam iclin > itioi Ch an l j 

York: StMartin's Press, 2001. 
Runciman, S. A History of the Crusades. Cambridge, U.K.: 

Cambridge University Press, 1951. 
Waardenburg, Jacques, ed. Muslim-Christian Perceptions of 

Dialogue Toil a) i < I Leu veil 

Peeters, 2000. 
Zebiri. Kale. Muslims and Christians Face to Face. Oxford, 

U.K.: Oneworld, 1997. 

Patrice C. Brodeur 


The role of circumcision (khitan) in Islamic society has 
shifted dramatically due to issues of gender, custom, and law. 
Nowhere mentioned in the Qur'an, circumcision was a com- 
mon practice in Arabia dial was incorporated into the Islamic 
legal system to varying degrees and for a variety of reasons, 
both Josephus and Philo of Alexandria note its presence in 
Egypt, Ethiopia, and Arabia prior to the coming of Islam. 
Philo observes that Egyptian males and females were circnm 
cised after the fourteenth year before marriage, « bile Josephns 
claims the Aral is performed it just after the thirteenth year, at 
the time Ishmael was circumcised. 

rhe minaret of a mosque and the belltowers of Christian churches 
cohabitate in Bethlehem on the West Bank. Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/ 
Wide World Photos 

is, Maurice Gi i / D 

and Muslims. Translated by R. Marston Speight. Mahwah, 

N.J.:Paulist Press, 1990. 
Brown, Stuart E., ed. Meeting in Faith: Twenty Years of 

Christian-Muslim < i the World Council 

of Churches. Geneva: W.C.C. Publications, 1989. 
Daniel ormaii. I i II The M • of an I 

Oxford, U.K.: Oneworld, 1993. 
Coddard, Hugh. A History oj Christian Muslim Relations. 

Chicago: Nev Yin i i< I, in Books, 2000. 
Coddard, Hugh. ( aid Mi • From Douhh 

dards to Mutual Understanding. Richmond, U.K.: 

Curzon, 1995. 
Haddad, Juliette Nasri, ed. Declarations Communes Is/amo 

Chretiennes: 1954-1995. Beyrouth: Dar el-Machreq, 1997. 
Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck, and Haddad, Wadi Saidan, eds. 

Christian-Muslim Encounters. Gainesville: University Press 

of Florida, 1995. 
Hillenbrand, C. The Ci i es Edinburgh: 

Edinburgh University Press, 1999. 
Laiou, Angeliki E., and Mottahedeh, Roy Parviz, eds. The 

Crusades from tin P o-p< i >/" By u i ,i and the Muslim 

World. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research 

Library and ( Collection, 2001. 

Legally, Islamic scholars debate whether the practice is 
obligatory or surma (customary ). or whether its obligations he 
extended solely to males, or to males and females. Al-Shafi c a 
considers the practice an equal duty for both sexes, while 
Malik and others consider it sunna for males. The disagree 
ment over gender requirements continues in current cultural 
practice. Female circumcision is embraced in southern Egypt, 
Ethiopia, Somalia, the Sudan, and West Africa, and a minor 
form is practiced by Southeast Asian Shaft is in Indonesia and 
Malay sia. It is condemned by main Muslims and non Muslims 
who reside outside of these areas, mostly for humanitarian 
and health reasons. Many legal schools also deliberate the 
time a circumcision should be performed. Some recommend 
the seventh day following the birth of a male child, while 
others propose its performance after a child reaches his tenth 
birthday. Again, such legal variation is mirrored in contem- 
porary practice. In the Middle East, circumcision occurs 
between the ages of two and seven, while in Europe and 
North Africa male Muslims are circumcised in hospitals 
immediately after birth. Suffice it to say that today there is no 
standard orthodox practice when it comes to circumcision. 
Not all Muslims practice circumcision (specifically, those in 
China), and many who do adhere to vastly different cul- 

The justifications for circumcision also vary dramatically 
in Islamic sources and practice. Many hadith link circumci- 
sion with purification (tahara). It often appears in lists that 
include other acts of general hygiene, including the clipping 

of nails, the use of the tooth-stick, the trimming of mus- 
taches, and the depilation of both the armpits and the pubic 
region. Some hailiih also link the practice back to Ibrahim, 
who circumcised himself at the age of eight) with a pickax. 
Unlike Judaism, Islam does not view circumcision as the sole 
signifier of the covenant between God and his people. Cir- 
cumcision stands as just one of many tests Ibrahim performed 
to demonstrate his adherence to the true faith. Many Mus- 
lims bypass these exegetical intricacies and simply take the 
view that Muhammad mandated the practice. The legal and 
customary support for circumcising just prior to the onset of 
puberty also suggests the practice was performed as a rite of 
passage, one thai would ready an individual for marriage. As a 
rite of passage, male circumcision ceremonies in places like 
Java and Morocco are accompanied with purificatory rites, 
sacrifices, and feasts. When conducted today, female circum- 
cision is a much less celebratory act, rarely accompanied by 
such festivities. To interpret circumcision in Islam from a 
religious studies standpoint, the manipulation of the genitalia 
exemplifies ultimate divine control over one's human, pro- 
creative instincts. Thus one cut symbolizes a total submis- 
sion to God. 

See also 'Ada; Body, Significance of; Gender; Law. 


Bloch, Maurice. 1<\ B / ' 11/ I hkoh 

in the Circumcision Ritual of the Merina of Madagascar. 

Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1986. 
Kisler, M.J. Concepts and Ideas at the Dawn of Islam, Aldershol, 

Great Britain; Brookfield, Vt: Ashgate/Varioram, 1997. 
Robinson, Francis. Ada ' 1 ' ice 1500. New 

York: Facts On File, 1982. 

Kathryn Kueny 


Islamic dress has for centuries been used to symbolize purity, 
mark status or formal roles, distinguish believer from 
nonbeliever, and identify gender. Traditionally Muslims were 
admonished to dress modestly in garments that did not reveal 
the body silhouette and extremities. Head coverings were 
also expected. However, dress forms van in different pel iods 
and regions, as does interpretation of and adherence to 
Muslim dress codes. The most prominent forms of Near 
Eastern dress can be classified as Arab or Turkic/Iranian in 
form, with degrees of blending between the two modes 
occurring where interaction between these cultures has been 

Arab dress can be seen from northern 
Africa. The basic dress of both men and wc 
the simple tunic, an unfitted garment pulled 1 


to North 

•the head, 

the region since Roman time (qi rorii b) 
The earlier form of Arab dress, unseamed wrapped garments 
(tzar and rida), have survived as the consecrated garments 
iihram) worn by pilgrims to Mecca. The thumb is well suited 
to desert heat, providing both protection from the sun and 
ventilation. A wide unfitted man 1 1 ' < 01 aba; hooded 
hurnus) may also be worn. Typical ma 1 erials are cotton or fine 
wool, with dense silk embroidery applied to necklines and 
borders. To this might be added sashes and shawls. Men's 
head coverings might be a turban, or a simple shawl bound at 
the forehead, arranged on the head according to status, 
affiliation, local usage, or practical need. Turbans are the 
most well known of Muslim headgear, however. Hats or caps 
may also be worn either separately or under turbans. Women's 
clothing is based on the same basic garment forms but differs 
in color, embellishment, materials, and accessories. In public, 
women's garments were traditionally hidden by veils that 
coveted, all parts of the body to the ground or only head, 
shoulders, and face. 

Turkic dress was w idely influential throughout the Islamic 
world. The Seljuk Turks emerged from Central Asia, estab- 
lishing dynasties in Iran and Asia Minor by the eleventh 
century. By the mid-sixteenth century the Ottoman Empire 
encompassed most of the lands surrounding the eastern 

The traditional Turkish ensemble for either men or women 
consisted of loose-fitting trousers {salvor, don) and a shirt 

; I |)|>i (11)} III l| 11 ),\ (1 

and long coats (entari, kaftan, uc etek). The use of coats and 
trousers derived from their nomadic origins in Central Asia. 
Trousers protect a rider's legs from chafing, and coats or 
jackets can be more readily donned or doffed than tunics 
while on horseback, as required in a variable climate. Layer- 
ing of garments was an important aesthetic element. Gar- 
ments were arranged to display the patterns and quality of 
fabrics on all layers and jdd bulk to the body image. The more 
formal the occasion or the higher the status of the wearer, the 
more layers worn, with richer materials further indicating 
wealth. Colorful sashes that added mass to the body image 
also served as a repository for weapons and personal articles. 
Ottoman Turkish headgear typically consisted of a brimless 
hat or cap in a variety of sizes and forms indicating official 
status, gender, and regional identity. Scarves were usually 
wrapped into a turban over the hat. The form of the turban 
indicated status, occupation, religious affiliation, or regional 
origin. Women's scarves were wrapped and tied around the 
head, frequently in layers, with a larger veil worn over all 
in public. 

Specific forms of dress were worn by Ottoman officials 
throughout the Ottoman Empire. The nearly five-hundred- 
5 ear presence of ( Hloman rule throughout much of the Arab 
world led to some blending of garmenl forms, particularly in 
northern Arab regions adjacent to Anatolia, and also in urban 

Traditional male Arab dress is depicted in this 1936 postcard from 
the region. Cornell Costume and Textile Collection 

Arab centers of the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. 
The adoption of buttoned vests or jackets of silk or wool 
decorated with embroidery, and the loose-fitting trousers 
called stilvar in Turkish or sirwal in Arabic are evidence of 
such borrowings in Arab dress. The dress of Muslim sub- 
Saharan Africa is derived from that of the Arabs who brought 
Islam there in the eleventh century. 

Traditional dress in Iran shares with that of Turkey forms 
indicative of nomadic origins, with layered coats and salvar as 
typical features of dress. These forms were also introduced 
into Muslim northern India from Central Asia bytheTurkic 
Gaznevids in the eleventh and twelfth century, and by the 
Moguls in the sixteenth century. Such forms are reflected in 
Mogul court dress, where for men trousei (pi ijtuiiti) were 
typically combined with front-opening coats or jackets of 
varying length and cut (angarkha or jama). For women, the 
characteristic ensemble might include a bodice or tunic (kurtti 
or choli) and skirt ! I ind/or trousei I / ai ), aswellasa 
veil. The exquisitely fine and complex silks and cottons of 
India are a distinctive characteristic of dress from litis region. 

Modesty in dress u as enjoined in Islam for both mi 
women, although the particulars of pious modesty a 
precisely defined in the Qurian. The body of Islamic 1; 
scholarship, however, has provided more specific dir< 
that have nonetheless been applied differently in different 
times and places. Generally some sort of headcovering or 
i ill 11 U i i ii mandated for both men and v omen. In some 
countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia all women are 
required to veil, although the forms of veiling vary. In some 
other societies veils may be a matter of choice. 

Throughout the Islamic world, dress has been used to 
manage distinctions of rank, gender, and religion. Under 
Ottoman law, for example, dress of the various religious 
communities within the empire was regulated, with specific 
colors and forms of headgear, shoes, and garments defined. 
Garments, particularly coats, were an important aspect of 
court ceremonial throughout the Muslim world. The court 
reception of emissaries, celebration of religious holidays, 
installation of officials, or honoring of heroes always called 
for the presentation of ceremonial robes and other textile 
gifts, with the richness of the fabrics or fur linings a mark of 
the degree of honor conferred upon the recipient. The 
wearing of luxurious materials such as silk and gold thread 
was often restricted, however, although such restrictions 
were often ignored. The wearing of silk, particularly next to 
the skin, was widely held to be an impious luxury for good 
Muslims. A colorful satin cloth that had a cotton weft and silk 
warp, and therefore a cotton inner surface and a silk outer 
face, allowed the nearer to conform to this religious admoni 
tion while enjoying the luxurious outer appearance of a silk 
garment. This textile was widely used in the Islamic world, 
known as kutnit in the Near East, and mashru in northern 
India and Pakistan. However, the most pious avoided lnxiiri 
ous materials and colors, and wore clothiitL; of simple wool. 

Beginning in the nineteenth century, westernization of 
dress occurred together with modernization of political, 
military, and educational institutions, since initially mod- 
is officially perceived as consonant with 
. Also the emergence of a modern textile in- 
dustry in many regions led to the disappearance of the more 
costly handmade textiles once used in traditional dress. Since 
dress had long been closely regulated under Muslim law, 
departures from traditional dress became highly charged 
political and social issues. The banning of the turban and the 
introduction of the fez by the Ottoman sultan Mahmut II in 
1 829 (as well as a westernized military uniform) caused great 
controversy as did similar decrees in Iran in 1873. These 
reforms were intended to symbolize modernization of mili- 
tary and administrative institutions, 5 et a century later the fez 
had become a symbol of Ottoman traditionalism. Following 
the founding of the Turkish Republic. A Iusta fa Kemal (Ataturk) 
met resistance when he banned the fez in 1925, and even 
more so when he urged abandonment of the veil for women. 

Since mandated ideas of proper dress had for centuries been 
the means of distinguishing Muslim from lion Muslim, these 
issues continue to have great emotional force throughout the 
Muslim world. In the 1980s and 1990s dress reemerged as a 
symbolic flashpoint between religious conservative and secu- 
larist elements in Islamic societies. 

Examples of traditional clothing appear in the volume one 
color insert. 

See also Art; Body, Significance of; Khirqa; Veiling. 


Jirousek, Charlotte. "The Transition to Mass Fashion Sys- 
tem Dress in the Later Ottoman Empire." In Consumption 
Studies and the History of the Ottoman Empire, 1550-1922: 
An Introduction. Edited In Donald Cnialaert. Albam : State 
University of New York Press, 2000. 

I o i I L Ekrern. Tiirk < / / / 

(Dictionary of Turkish: (Dress, Accessories, and Embel- 
lishment.) Ankara: Siimerbank, 1969. 

Lindisfarne Tapper, Nancy, and Ingham, Bruce, eds. Ean- 
guagesofDre\uu i ' \1 JdleL Richmond inrrt ' 1 
Curzon Press, 1997. 

Mayer, L. A. Maiuluk Costume: A Survey. Geneva: Albert 
Kundig, 1952. 

rce, Jennifer. 1 1 t , ' I M i 

London: Unwin Hyman, 1987. 

Slillman, Yedida Ivalfon. . Irab Dress from the Daren of Islam to 
Modern Times: A Short History. Edited In Norman Stillman. 
Leiden, Boston, and Koln: Brill, 2000. 

Charlotte Jirousek 


When Islam emerged in 610 c.e., Mecca did not have its own 
coinage. Instead, it relied entirely on the coins of neighboring 
regions, particularly the Byzantine and Sassanid empires. 
Being both a trading town and a pilgrimage center, Mecca 
attracted a wide range of the coins in circulation at the time. 
Neither the prophet Muhammad nor his immediate political 
successors sought to change this. When the Muslims con- 
quered much of the Byzantine and Sassanid empires after the 
death of the Prophet in 632 c.e., they left the administrative 
structures of these regions, including their minis and coinages. 
largely intact. 

As a result of the Muslim conquests of the seventh century 
c.e., rapid economic expansion and currency circulation oc- 
curred in the Near East, along n ith Muslim migration from 
Arabia to the newly conquered regions. Regular cash stipends 
began to flow out to Muslims from the Central Treasury i bayt 
al-mal) in Medina during the caliphate of Umar I (r. 634-644), 
and there was substantial inflow of taxes and tributes from the 

conquered lands to the treasury, first located in Medina, then 
in Damascus during the Umayyad period. The monelization 
of the economy that resulted from this expansion required 
not only large amounts of cash (coins) bill also a standard 
monetary unit for transactions and account keeping. In re- 
sponse, (he silver dirham, modeled on the Sassanid drachma, 
was adopted, with the coins being provided by the former 
Sassanid mints. 

Economic expansion continued with the establishment of 
the Umayyad caliphate, but the silver dirham remained the 
unit of currency. As mints did not generally issue gold coins, 
the market had to rely largely on the Byzantine solidi to meet 
its gold currency needs. The solidi themselves suffered near 
and tear, which led at times to a less than uniform weight. 
Similarly, the silver dirhams in circulation, or those minted 
by the Muslims, showed discrepancies. Strong pressure there- 
fore existed for a standard currency, including a unit based on 
gold, the production of which could be controlled by the 

Following minor attempts at currency reform by caliphs 
such as Umarl, 'Alib. Abi Talib and. Mu'awiyah, which went 
only as far as adding an Islamic inscription or date to existing 
Byzantine or Sassanid coins, c Abd al-Malik b. Marwan (r. 
685-705), the Umayyad caliph, took the initiative. Between 
696 and 698, he changed the form as well as the weight of the 
dinar and dirham and regulated minting. The coins empha- 
sized the emerging power of Muslims and of Islam as a 
religion, with Islamic inscriptions such as "There is no God 
but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." Unlike 
Byzantine and Sassanid coins, the reformed coins did not bear 
the Caliph's image. 

The pre-reform dinar had neighed approximately 4.55 
grams, but 'Abd al-Malik reduced it to 4.25 grams. The 
fineness of the dinar was set at a minimum 96 percent gold 
alloy. The weight of the pre-reform dirham had been ap- 
proximately 3.98 grams, hut 'Ahd a! Malik standardized it to 
2.97 grams. This weight remained largely unchanged until 
the mid-ninth century c.e. The fineness of the silver dirham 
was also maintained at near 96 percent. Though the capital, 
Damascus, minted some coins, particularly gold dinars, Ahd 
al Malik did not centralize minting in that city. This function 
was given to provincial mints, and here the caliph relied 
heavily on his governor in Iraq, al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf, to impose 
coinage reform on the eastern regions of the caliphate. Later, 
caliph Hisham b. Abd al-Malik (r. 724-743) also tightened 
control over the quality of both dinar and dirham. 

'Abd al-Malik's reformed coinage set a standard that 
continued in some respects well into the following Abbasid 
period. In order to standardize further the coinage of the 
powerful Abbasid caliphate, the caliph al-Ma'mun (r. 813-833) 
introduced new coinage in -Si I and 822. He abolished inclu- 
sion of the caliph's or the provincial governor's name on 
coins, ordered thai both gold and silver coins should follow 

An 1877 banknote for fifty Kurush from the Ottoman Empire. At 
the beginning of the Muslim empire after Muhammad's death, 
Muslim conquerers did not impose their own currency system on 
their subjects, because Mecca did not have its own coinage. 
Instead, it used the currency of nearby areas. Today, each Muslim 
nation has its own currency. The Art Archive/Dagli Orti (A) 

specific design guidelines and inscriptions, and appears to 
have centralized the production of coin dies. His successor, 
al-Mu'tasim, however, reintroduced the addition of the ca- 
liph's name. In the post-Mu'tasim period, some Abbasid 
caliphs even added the name of the heir-apparent or would- 
be successor. From the early ninth century to the middle of 
the tenth century c.e., the vast Abbasid caliphate thus ac- 
quired a significantly uniform coinage, which vastly aided 
internal and external, and Muslim and non-Muslim, com- 
merce and trade. These dinars and dirhams were imitated in 
Europe and elsewhere. 

With the decline in Abbasid power, the disintegration of 
the caliphate, and the emergence of independent provinces 
and dynasties, central control of the coinage as well as its 
uniformity were lost. Independent provinces began minting 
their own dinars and dirhams and determining the fineness of 
their coins. Although the fineness of gold dinars was at times 
maintained and even excelled, for instance under the Falimid 
caliph al-'Amir (r. 1101-1130) and the Ayyubid sultan al- 
Kamil (r. 1218-1238), large variations did occur. For this 
reason, there is disagreement among scholars on the use of 
the terms "Islamic dinar" and "Islamic dirham" as a standard 
unit of currency in the Muslim world, particularly in respect 
of the post-tenth-century c.e. period, except insofar as it 

refers to the theoretical dinar and dirham of the Muslim 
jurists (fag aha'). 

Despite the variation in the quality of the coinage under 
different dynasties, certain features introduced by reformers 
remained common. These included inscriptions symbolizing 
the religious basis of the coinage, an indication of the mint 
year, the mint name, and often the name ol the caliph orruler 
under whom the coin was issued. Coins from Islamic dynas 
lies lur\ e therefore an important historical significance. Apart 
from their commercial role, they can tell us much about the 
political and economic condition and the artistic and aes- 
thetic tendencies of the time. 

In the modern period, each Muslim state has its own 
coinage and, like other countries, has abandoned the gold 
standard, even though Muslim jurists have not relinquished 
the concept of the gold dinar or the silver dirham in their legal 
texts. In many juristic discussions, money proper is still the 
dinar and the dirham of early Islam. However, as part of a 
wider Islamic revival, the idea of a specifically Islamic stand- 
ard unit of currency, a dinar, has been revived, though not 
necessarily based on the earlier gold dinar. The most visible 
aspect of this was the adoption in 1975 of the Islamic Dinar as 
its unit of accounting by the Islamic Development Bank, an 
international Islamic financial institution u hose shareholders 
are member states of the Organization of the Islamic Confer- 
ence (OIC). The value of the Islamic Dinar is equivalent to 
one SDR — Special Drawing Right — of the International 
Monetary Fund. 

See also Economy and Economic Institutions; Law; 
Networks, Muslim. 


I In enk in i ridrei \lonctar) ' "id 1 lie II 

tory in the Medieval Muslim World. Edited by Jere L. 
Bacharach. Hampshire, U.K.: Ashgate Publishing, 1992. 

El-Hibri, Tayeb. "Coinage Reform Under the Abbasid ( laliph 

1 1 Mi in i ii i ) 'i he I ii i a i, il History of the 

Orient 36 (1993): 58-83. 
Crierson, Philip. "The Monelan Reform of 'Abel al Malik."' 

Journal of the Economic iind Social History of the Orient 3 

(1960): 241-264. 
Miles, G. C. "Dinar." In The Encyclopaedia of Islam. Leiden: 

E.J. Brill, 1960. 
Miles, G. C. "Dirham." In The En, \ lopa I > i Islam. Leiden: 

E.J. Brill, 1960. 

Abdullah Saeed 


Modern colonialism goes bac 
ery in the fifteenth century, 

;• exploitatic 

materials with missionary ideas. Since then colonialism has 
taken several and different forms, and various colonial powers 
(such as the Portuguese and French in Africa, French and 
British in the Middle East and South Asia, the Dutch in 
Southeast Asia, the Spanish in South America) tried to sup- 
port their own hegemonies in Europe as well as competing 
and contesting materially and politically in order to control 
the new world economy. 

The independence of the United States ushered in an- 
other phenomenon: White colonial regions became indepen 
dent as they became semi-sovereign vis-a-vis their colonial 

motherlands. At the same time European industrial countries 
contested for the safeguarding of raw materials, markets, and 
possibilities of emigration in what they considered to be 
unexploited and virgin regions. 

Colonial Expanison 

Modern colonial expansion and colonization (when few Euro- 
pean settlers appeared in the Muslim world) started in the 
wake of the breakdown of Muslim empires, from within the 
boundaries ol the territorial European established in 
the eighteenth century into the borders of national markets. 
Hence, colonialism did not expand beyond traditional and 
primitive societies but into closed political entities, such as 
the territorial princely states or successor states, which had 
replaced the great empires. By the eighteenth century the 
world economy was ahead) reorganized, and European ex- 
pansion had graduallj changed the terms of trade for Muslim 
countries. A tremendous societal upheaval occurred as parts 
of the traditional society were increasingly integrated into 
world market relations. This complex process came about 
primarily through technical innovation (e.g., perennial irri- 
gation systems), investment of capital, and privatization of 
landed property (e.g., the 1793 permanent settlement in 
India). Next to the traditional urban and agrarian sectors, 
colonial urban and agrarian sectors were esl a I dished, using a 
colonial infrastructure. The previously important nomadic 
sector was noticeably marginalized. A colonial administrative 
and military force was set up, visualized in new settlement-.. 
such as civil lines and cantonments. The education system 
was replaced or paralleled by a new European one suiting 
colonial i 

In doing so two broad patterns were followed: direct rule, 

virtually excluding indigenous political structures, as favored 
by the Spanish and Portuguese in the Americas, and by the 
French in Africa I especially after the French Revolution); and 
set rule, which by contrast, incorporated traditional 
indigenous political structures and was favored by the British 
in South Asia, the Dutch in Southeast Asia, and by the 
Germans and Belgians in Africa. The reasons for these 
differences were pragmatic — the cost-effectiveness through 
the involvement of few Europeans — as well as ethnocentric, 
wherein non-whites and whites were considered fundamen- 
tally different, and therefore were controllable onh by their 

own leaders and systems. Often corporate bodies of mer- 
chants initiated a system (if indirect rule, such as Lire various 
East Indian Companies. In this way vast colonies could be 
ruled remotely through the "resident," the agent of indi- 
rect rule. 

The colonial restructuring v. as accompanied by profound 
changes in the socio-psychological sphere of Muslim socie 
ties as well. Traditional systems of society, values, and rela- 
tions were gradually replaced by abstract, anonymous state 
agents — whether through direct or indirect rule. This proc- 
ess ushered in new societal formations, especially in the 
political sphere, since with the increasing expansion of the 
colonial sector, traditional forces came to break down or 
looked for alternative structures. But not all sectors and areas 
were seized by the political!;, dominant colonial sector, as 
their integration was not always profitable, such as in parts of 
traditional and tribal areas. They were consequently ignored, 
and they still are socioeconomically neglected areas. 

The colonialization of the Islamic world in the nineteenth 
century occurred over several decades. The process can be 
divided into three phases: from 1820, when colonial power 
was ahead) firmly established, to 1856, when Muslim coun- 
tries struggled for recognition in the changing geopolitical 
reality; and, from f 856 to 1880 nearly all Muslim countries 
lost their economic and financial independence and became 
dependent on the Europeans. During the period from f 880 
to 1910 most of these countries — apart from those Muslim 
countries controlled by the i Htornan caliphate were subject 
to direct colonial military and political control: economic 
colonialism had become political colonialism. In this situa- 
tion of political subservience, the traditional urban divines, 
particularly theologians, were responsible for the traditional 
legitimization of the ruler. At the same time, in the colonial 
urban sector, Islamic repertory was gradually used as an 
ideology and a mobilizing force by those societal formations 
that had become partly integrated into this colonial sector. In 
to this, in the traditional agrarian sector Islam 

/ailed in the form of egalitarian peasant culture, as can be 

i from a number of Sufi and Mahdi n 

The idea of universal caliphate, which had been used by 
the Ottomans since the middle of the eighteenth century, 

particularly for reasons of foreign policy . became a \ ehicle for 
pan Islamic propaganda, notably by Sultan Abd al-Hamidll. 
Though this propaganda was politically unsuccessful and. led 
to the demise of the caliphate in 1924, the propaganda 
triggered a heft) discussion of the idea of a universal caliphate 
outside of Turkey: On the one hand the validity of the idea 
was questioned ('Abd al-Raziq); on the other, Indian Muslims 
staged a khilafat movement. A colonial crackdown, however, 
put this movement down. 

The Second World War accelerated the process of 
decolonialization but left the former colonies with basic- 
structural problems that were a result of colonialism, such as 

insufficient societal integration, artificial boundaries, and 
narrowly based economies. 

Beside these socio historical and political developments, 
one needs to consider the normative aspect underlying the 
colonial process: A colonial collective image of Islam was 
created, going as far back as the Crusades and revived at a 
time when Europeans had started to project their own imagi- 
nations onto Muslim societies — a phenomenon that historian 
Edward Said has called "Orientalism." In this view, the 
heterogeneous Islamic world was reduced to a monolithic, 
antimodern, and anti-intellectual world, excluded from world 

Nineteenth-century colonial politics was legitimized as 
evolutionary and modern, while the "Orient" was constructed 
as a cultural space, diametrically opposed to the values and 
norms of the West, which were considered to be inherently 

universal. This unidirnensional social evolutionism proclaimed 
Europe as embodying hegemonic power In doing so, various 
discourses about the ( )rient promulgated the societal decline, 
dogmatism, despotism, and irrationality of the region. E\ en 
tually this hegemonic claim produced new "Orientalist"' 

Against the backdrop of a postulated universal evolution- 
ary history, tire ( h'ieirlalist sciences analyzed the object "Ori 
ent" in its historical development, making use of the Hegelian 
categories of alienation and reconciliation. In this way, colo 
nial administrations were provided with a "scientifically 
proven" image about the stage of development attained by 
the Orient, which was seen to be alienated from its classical 
high culture. Cultural theories provided the colonial admin- 
istration with this Orien t a 1 1 s t i in a ge, which ran counter to the 
historical one of classical high culture. On the basis of this 
construction, colonial measures to "reconcile" the Orient 
with its alienated tradition were to be implemented as an 
export of progress. Thus terms like "modern" and "tradi 
tional" or "primitive" became scientific categories, establish- 
ing an epistemological supremacy of Europe that was firmly 
established politically. 

In this way authority was created on the object "Orient" 
not only for the Europeans but also gradually, through 
reciprocal perceptions, for the "Orientals" themselves. Sub- 
sequently, authority was derived from the instrumentalizalion 
of the Weberian demand for "value free"' social sciences, thai 
became "objective" insofar as the) were considered to be not 
ideologically biased, but unquestionably "true." 

While the power relations cannot be ignored, it is impor- 
tanttonote the cultural hybridization of the colonial process, 
for example, the reciprocal} of colonializer and colonialized. 
Indeed, the colonialized peoples had a function in the colo- 
nial process, for the establishment of European dominance 
was essential!) based, on the cooperation of local informants, 

colonial traders, and rulers. Therefore, contemporary de- 
bates became the starting point for the colonial reception of 
( Mental society . Naturally , the oscillating processes betv een 
Europeans and iron Europeans openly and latently shaped 
both societies. If projection is considered to be a cultural 
technique for self-affirmation and demarcation, then assign- 
ing a collective (negative) identity to the (colonialized) "other" 
implied the colonialists" generating their own identity in a 
specific colonial context. Indeed, some European enlighten- 
ment figures even had gone as far as to use the "Orient" as a 
didactic background to criticize their own urban societies, 
thereby setting out the frame of reference for their own 

The intrinsic impact of reciprocity and mutuality of the 
colonial process may have found one political manifestation 
in indirect rule, which was, however, not implemented in its 
totality, because the British administration got involved in 
internal affairs of these societies \ ery quickly, at resem 
bling the French system ol direct colonial administration. In 
India one manifestation of British indirect rule was the 
establishment i>( m\ honors system and the issuing of titles. 
The residency system provided for the cultural success of 
imperialism, a success that found its climax in the "invention 
of tradition" as it represented colonial authority in Victorian 
India through different devices, such as highly ritualistic 
events to mark Queen Victoria's accession in 1876 to the title 
"Ivaisar e Hind" (Empress of India, combining the imperial 
titles of Roman "Caesar," German "Kaiser," and Russian 

The nineteenth-century- Orientalist image and action not 
only cemented the dominant image of the Orient in the 
West but also affected the self-statement of the Orient. 
Consequently this image changed non-Western practices 

concretely- from blind imitation of modernization to a total 
rejection of Western society, thereby forming a "strange 
alliance" between western Orientalism and Muslim funda- 
mentalism, whence one side satisfied the essenlializing fanta- 
sies of the other. 

Colonialism and the Emergence of 
Islamic Movements 

The deep traces of colonialism that changed the whole 
landscape of the Muslim world brought about new social 
formations, and new Islamic 

s promm 

t among pastoral and 
Wahhabiyyan and 


Reform Sufism started off in urban, pastoral, and 
tribal areas, first against feudal rule and later oppos- 
ing European intrusion. In doing so, the figure of 
prophet Muhammad became even more pivotal, 
hence the establishment of "Muhammadan Paths"' 
(turuq Muhammadiyya) in the colonialized regions. 

This kind of mystical approach found its clin 
it of the Mahdi of Sudan. 

' A third trend was Islamic modernism, represented 

primarily by intellectuals, bureaucrats, and the mili- 
tary, and manifested in creations of the colonial 
system, like the Aligarh Movement in India, the 
Young Ottomans, and the so-called pan Islamic 

These movements adjusted to the new conditions and 
opted for the integration of the colonial system with Islamic 
theology. Jamal al-Din al Afghani and Sayyid Ahmad Khan 
were two exponents of the modernizing trend, however 
different their motivations may have been. Precondition for 
the ideologization of Islam was a renewed call for the 
reinlroduction of independent reasoning (ijtihad) at the cost 
of adherence to one's school of law (taqlid). Timeless catego- 
ries developed in the course of Western civilization were now 
regarded as immanently Islamic. The use of media in exile — 
mostly in the metropolises of their colonial motherlands — 
was part of that strategy. 

As a result of colonialism a three layered structure emerged: 
secularized urban (post-colonial) state regimes, traditional 
urban noiipolilical Muslim religious associations, and urban 
middle-class opposition movements that stood for some kind 
of a reconstruction of a Muslim state. 

Subsequently, alter political independence following the 
Second World War, the new Muslim states were mostly 
centralized and secularized, based on military or bureaucratic 
elites with state capitalism or socialism favoring the ruling 
elites. Islamic modernism was replaced by secular national 
ism, co-opting Muslim leaders who would legitimize this 
centralism. To be sure, the identity giving Islamic symbolism 
was used for the mobilization of wider strata of society. 

The nonpolitical Muslim religious associations mostly 
stayed quietistic, while new movements among parts of the 
ulema played on their Islamicity. Some of them referred to 
concepts tuned to colonial society, basically so as not to fall 
behind completely in terms of political influence. The oppo- 
sition movements stood for the reconstruction of a Muslim 
state and reorganized Islam in different ways, for example, 
the theory of the caliphate providing an extended interpreta 
tion to legitimize power, rendering Islam into a comprehen- 
sive system that was to counter Western ideologies. 

One branch of this Muslim cultural manifestation is of 

quite some importance, for example, religions fundamental 
ism, which has to be seen as a reaction to colonial encroach- 
ment as well as a demarcation against folk religious traditions, 
reevaluating Islam in terms of political ideology, was elabo 
rated upon only during the 1930s. 

Its carriers were integrated into the post-colonial system, 
due to which they adopted and adapted its major terms, 

giving them an Islamic garb. This normative replacement 
enabled these Islamic classicists to transcend traditional 

boundaries and legitimize modern developments within the 
Islamic semiotics. In this process of reinvention of tradition, 
code- or identity-switching is most important, providing this 
political Islam with its particular dynamics. 

The latest development in the wake of colonialism is the 
emigration of large Muslim communities to Europe and 
North America. The migration pattern follows colonial and 

historical traditions, that is, 3 laghrebiaii Muslims in France, 
Southeast Asian Muslims in the Netherlands, South Asian 
Muslims in Britain, and Turkish Muslims in Germany. 

See also Fundamentalism; Orientalism. 


Al-Azmeh, Azi ' Islam ma '/ lernities London: Verso, 1993. 
Malik, Jama I, ed. Perspectives of Mutuul Encounters in South 

Asian History: 1760-1860. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2000. 
Said. 1 

London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979. 
Schulze, Rein 1 rd. G < la Welt im 20. 

Jahrhundert. Munich: Beck, 1994. 


Both communism and Islam pose solutions to social, moral, 
: and political order. Their differences, however, are 
ad fundamental. Communist movements have 
developed throughout the Islamic world but they have been 
limited to a narrow social base, and have most often been 
composed of non-Muslims. Communist groups became deeply 
inv< 1 ed with di I> itin tht \\ rxisl Lt iini t theon i< I i i 
sons for this failure to obtain mass support. These debates 
further fragmented most communist movements in the Islamic 
world. Communism in the Middle East was never a serious 
contender for power, and the collapse of the Soviet Union 
further marginalized communism worldwide. 

Islamic scholars critiqued communism in several areas. 
Foremost, communism denies the existence of God. In doing 
so, it is directly opposed to Islam and Islamic tenets of faith. 
Further, Islam views history in a different way than does 
. Rather than the communist dialectic, and the 
it of history from capitalism to communism, Islam 
views history as a search for faith and truth. Historical 
development of society ends when Islam is accepted, not 
when capitalism is swept away by communism. Finally, in 

seeking social justice, Islam Joes not seek to make all persons 
equal; it accepts that some will have more than others. Islam 
achieves social justice through acceptance of the obligation of 
those with more to provide for those with less, through 
processes such as zakat (alms giving). 

Before the Second World War, o 
the Middle East consisted of small groups of intellectuals, 
drawn to its anticolonial stance. The post-war environment, 
with Soviet expansionism and the collapse of the colonial 
powers, was initially considered by most communists as an 
opportunity to reach the masses. Soviet support to these 
groups was not automatic. The Cold War saw the Soviet 
Union faced with often-contradictory policies of supporting 
evolutionary movements and supporting gov- 
is aligned w ith Soviet interests. For instance, support 
to the Egyptian government under Jamal Abd a I Nasser was 
valuable to Soviet interests, but conflicted with addressing 
the needs of the Egyptian Communist Party. In other cases, 
such as Iran, the Soviets provided clandestine support to the 
communists. Meanwhile, under the Eisenhower Doctrine, 
the United States formalized its opposition to communist 
movements in the Middle East. Under this doctrine, the 
United States intervened militarily in Lebanon in 1958, and 
formed the Baghdad Pact against Soviet expansionism, Nei 
therthe United States nor the Soviet Union fully understood 
the driving forces of the area, as vs as demonstrated to each in 
Iran and Afghanistan in the late 1970s. 

In Egypt, Palestine, and Lebanon in the 1920s, well-to-do 
intellectuals founded communist or socialist political groups. 
Alter the Second World War, the Syrian Communist Part}-, 
which had attracted support from Kurds and other minori- 
ties, grew to some importance in the 1950s, but never became 
a serious contender for power. The Lebanese Communist 
Party, outlawed until 1970, never gained more than a few 
thousand members. The Egyptian ( lommunist Party shared 
the anticolonial views of Nasser, but he banned the party and 
imprisoned its leaders following his 1952 coup. Since then, 
communism in Egypt has been represented by a number of 
peripheral splinter groups. 

In Iran, after the First World War, a major c 

t developed in Iran, where contact with Russian 
i Azerbaijan resulted in the formation of the 
Adalat Party, in 1917. In 1920 this became the Ferqeh-ye 
Komunist-e Iran. Outlawed in 1929, it was reestablished as 
the Tudeh Party in 1941. This was outlawed in 1949, but 
continued to develop underground. Parly membership con 
sisted mainly of intellectuals, military officers, and other 
elites, and its leadership was heavily factionalized. Following 
the overthrow of Mohammad Alosaddeq (1953), the Iranian 
government took firm action against the Tudeh, and deci- 
mated the Party. Splinter communist elements continued to 
be active in Iran through the late 1970s, playing a role in the 

Islamic Revolution of 1979. These groups were eliminated or 
driven out of Iran as the clerics consolidated their power. 

The Iraqi Communist Party (ICP, founded in 1934) has 
played a role out of proportion to its size in Iraqi politics, 
beginning with its participation in the independence move- 
ment against the British. The overthrow of the Hashemite 
kingdom in 195H brought the part) to national importance. 
The ICP mobilized a quarter million demonstrators against 
a conservative coup attempt in 1959, and had its own armed 
militia. Its rival, the Ba'th Party, a secular, socialist movement 
espousing Arab unity and anticolonialism, immediateh was 
plunged into conflict with the ICP after seizing power in 
1963, and quickly outstripped it in influence. In 1974, all 
opposition parties, including the ICP, were consolidated into 
the Progressive National Front (PNF), which allowed the 
Ba'ath to firmly control the opposition movements. From 
1978 to 1979, the government arrested and executed many 
ICP leaders, while others fled the country. 

Only one Middle Eastern state, the People's Republic of 
Yemen, has had a Marxist government. While a British 
colony, a violent independence movement developed with 
Soviet support . Follow ing independence in 1967, the Soviet 
funded National Liberation Front, a .Marxist group, tookand 
held power. The Front was convulsed in factionalism, and 
quickly became more ideological and repressive. To divert 
popular dissent, the Front fought skirmishes with neighbor- 
ing Oman, Saudi Arabia, and North Yemen. When the Soviet 
Union collapsed, South Yemen no longer received Soviet aid, 
and the long-standing attempt to merge North and South 
Yemen under a single, noncommunist government, officially 
succeeded in 1990, although outbreaks of unrest still occur. 

The late 1960s saw a resurgence of splinter communist 
movements among students and intellectuals, as Maoism and 
Guevarism became popular. These movements had no sig- 
nificant mass appeal, but because of the violent tendencies of 
the groups, they had some political impact as governments 
attempted to control them. Some Palestinian groups ab- 
sorbed these ideologies and their emphasis on violence and 
revolution. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Pa lest in 
ian (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of 
Palestine (DFLP), and the Popular Front for the Liberation 
of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) all combined 
Marxist Leninism with Palestinian nationalism. In most coun- 
tries, there were no more than a few hundred adherents of 
these revolutionary communist ideologies, and these were 
often splintered into several groups with narrow ideological 

The model of communist revolt, involving mobilizing the 
proletariat, failed in the Middle East. Attempts by some 
a adapt their principles to local conditions failed 
the ideological rigidity of communist leadership. 

Other factors included the suppression of a 

merits by almosl all regional governments, ideological in 

fighting and factionalism among the communists, and the 

availabilm of alternative social and economic structures that 
satisfied most of the populations. The collapse of the Soviet 
Union left most communists further isolated from public 


See also c Abd al-Nasser, Jamal; Ba'th Party; Political 
Organization; Political Thought; Socialism. 


Batatu, Hana. The Oh 

Movements in Inn/: .. I Study of Inn/ V Old Landed and Com- 
mercial Classes and of its ( '//// / ind Fret 
Officers. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1978. 

Cotlam, Richard \\. Satioualism in Iran. Pittsburgh, Pa.: 
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979. 

Ismael, Tareq Y., and El Sa 'id, Rifa'at. The Communist More 
ment in Egypt, 1920-1988. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse Uni- 
versity Press, 1990. 

Richard C. Campany, Jr. 


In the contemporary period. Islam is frequently depicted as 
predisposed to conflict and violence. The intractable Middle 
East conflict and recent events in which Muslim extremists 
have been implicated in acts of terror have only served to 
reinforce this widespread perception. To discern the veracity 
of the assertion that in some special way Islam is related to 
deadly conflic it i important to ituatethedi ti ion within 
a concrete sociohistorical context. Islam, conflict, and vio- 
lence do not occur in a social vacuum. Moreover, in order to 
correctly understand the ethical norms of Islam represented 
in the Muslim sacred scripture, the Qur'an, and in the 
exemplary conduct of the prophet Muhammad, it is necessary 
to analyze the historical milieu within which such norms were 

When the prophet Muhammad (570-632 c.e.) brought 
the Qur'an to the Arabs in the early seventh century, pre- 
Islamic Arabia was steeped in oppressive social relations and 
caught up in a vicious cycle of violence. Muhammad's egali- 
tarian message quickly began to threaten the Meccan elite. 
They opposed his teachings v, ith great vehemence. He was 
forced to send some of his early followers to seek refuge in 
Abyssinia and later, in 622 c.e., he himself fled to the nearby 
city of Medina. Throughout the Meccan period, the early 
Muslims responded to the mental anguishes, physical abuse, 
and persistent threats to their lives with passive n 

was only thirteen \ ears into his prophetic mission that Mnliam 
mad and the early Muslims were permitted to engage in 
armed resistance, but only under certain stringent condi- 
tions, as specified in the Qur'an. 

Permission [to fight] is given to those against whom 
war is being wrongfully waged. God has indeed the 
power to succor them: those who have been driven 
from their homelands against all right for no other 
reason than their saying, "Our Lord and Sustainer is 
God! For, if God had not enabled people to defend 
themselves against one another, monasteries and 
churches and synagogues and mosques — in which God's 
name is abundantly extolled -would surely have been 
destroyed." (22:39-40) 

It is interesting to note that the above verses give prece- 
dence to the protection of monasteries, churches, and syna- 
gogues over that of mosques in order to underline their 
inviolability and the duty of the Muslim to safeguard them 
against any desecration or abuse, and protect freedom of 
belief. The aim of fighting according to this critical verse is 
the defense of not onh Islam, but also of religious freedom in 

In the succeeding decade (622-632 c.e.) Muhammad and 
his grow ing band of followers engaged in a series of battles to 
defend Islam against the military aggression of their adversar 
ies, including the critical battles of Badr, Uhud, and Khandaq. 
Warfare was a desperate affair in seventh-century Arabia. A 
chieftain was not expected to display weakness to his enemies 
in a battle, and some of the Quranic injunctions seem to 
share this spirit (4:90) Because the Qur'an was revealed in the 
context of deadly conflict, several passages deal with the 
ethics of warfare. (5:49; 8:61; 11:118-119; 49:9; 49:13). The 
most contentious of these is the so-called sword verse (ayat 
,ti sa\f). 

Once the sacred months have passed, you may kill the 
idolaters when you encounter them, and take them 
[captive], and besiege them, and prepare for them each 
ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and 
pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! God is 
Forgiving, Merciful. (9:5) 

Some classical Muslim commentators have construed this 
verse to imply that Muslims are obligated to fight non- 
Muslims until they embrace Islam in the case of poh theisls, 
or pay a special tax known asjizya, in the case of Jews and 
Christians who are referred to as the "people of the book." 

Yet other verses include exhortations to peace: "Thus, if 
they let you be, and do not make war on you, and offer you 

peace, God does not allow you to harm them" (4:90). The 
Qur'an quotes the Torah, the Jewish scriptures, which per- 
mits people to retaliate eye for eye, tooth for tooth, but like 
the Gospels, the Quran suggests that it is meritorious to 
forgo revenge in a spirit of charity (5:45). Hostilities must be 
brought to an end as quick];, as possible and must cease the 
minute the enemy sues for peace (2:192-193). The Qur'an, 
moreover, makes it emphatically clear that conflict can only 
be successfully ameliorated through the establishment of 
justice, which transcends sectarian self-interests. (4: 1 3 5; 7:29) 

() Believers! Stand firmly for justice, as v, 
God, even it is means testifying against yourselves, or 
your parents, or your kin, and whether it is against the 
rich or the poor, for God prevails upon all. Follow not 
the lusts of your hearts, lest you swerve, and if you 
distort justice or decline to do justice, verily God 
knows what you do. (4:135) 

The just war is always evil, but sometimes one has to fight 
in order to avoid the kind of persecution dun Mecca inflicted 
on the Muslims (2:191; 2:217), or to preserve decent values 
(4:75; 22:40). During his stay in Medina, Muhammad at- 
tempted to resolve the conflict with the Meccan leaders and 
their allies by entering into a peace treaty at a place called al- 
Iludaybiya. The treaty came to be known as / /// i n 
Sulh is an important term in Islamic law (shari'a). The 
purpose oisulh is to end conflict and hostility among adver- 
saries so that they may conduct their relationships in peace 
and amity (49:9). The word itself has been used to refer both 
to the process of restorative justice and peacemaking and to 
the actual outcome of that process. Even though sttlh id 
lliuhi\biyii never actualh achieved its aims because the Meccan 
tribesmen violated its conditions, 
n strategy. 

In 630 (.!., the Muslims gained their most significant 
victory when they captured the city of Mecca, remarkably 
n ithoul bloodshed. This pros, ided Muhammad with a second 
opportunity to institute a genuine sulh process. In a spirit of 
magnanimity, he forgave his enemies and enacted a process of 
reconciliation. A general amnesty was proclaimed in which all 
tribal claims to vengeance were abolished. Three years later 
Muhammad died in Medina at the age of sixty-three. 

The Qur'anic term most often conflated with that of 
violence is jihad. The Arabic verb jahada from which the 
verbal noun jihad is derived literally means "to strive hard, to 
exert strenuous effort and to struggle." As a multivalent 
Islamic concept, it denotes any effort in pursuit of a com- 
mendable aim. Jihad is a comprehensive concept embracing 
peaceful persuasion (16:125) ami passive resistance (13:22; 
23:96; 41:34), as well as armed struggle against oppression 

and injustice (2:193; 4:75; 8:39). The Islamic concept of jihad 
should not be confused with the medieval concept of holy war 
since the actual word id harbtd m/ii/nddi/sa is never used in the 
Qur'an. In Islam, a war is never holy; it is either justified or 
not. Moreover, jihad is not directed at other faiths. In a 
statement in which the Arabic is extremely emphatic, the 
Qur'an insists, "There must be no coercion in matters of 
faith!" (2:256). More than this, the protection of freedom of 
belief and worship for followers of other religions has been 
made a sacred duty of Muslims. This duty was fixed at the 
same time when the permission for armed struggle {jihad al 
qital) was ordained (22:39-40). 

In mystical (Sufi) traditions of Islam the greatest form of 
jihad, personal jihad, is to purify the soul and refine the 
disposition. Tins is regarded as the far more urgent and 
momentous struggle and it is based on a prophetic tradition 
(hadith). Muhammad is reported to have advised his compan 
ions as they return after a battle, "We are returning from the 
lesser jihad [physical fighting] to the greater jihad \jihiid ill 
nafs]." Sufis have traditionally understood this greater form of 
jihad to be the spiritual struggle to discipline the lower 
impulses and base instincts in human nature. The renowned 
thirteenth-century Sufi scholar, Jalal al-Din Rumi, articu- 
lated such an understanding of jihad when he wrote: "The 
prophets and saints do not avoid spiritual struggle. The first 
spiritual struggle they undertake is the killing of the ego and 
the abandonment of personal wishes and sensual desires. This 
is the greater jihad"' (Chiuick, trans., p. 15 I ). 

After the demise of the Prophet and the completion of the 
textual guidance of the Our -.m. Muslims were faced with the 
challenge ol interpreting and applying the Islamic normative 
principles on conflict and violence to their own peculiar 
sociohislorical contexts. Subsequent generations of Muslims 
have interpreted these normative values in such a way as to 
give Islam a paradoxical role in human history. In the first 
three centuries of Islam the classical doctrine of jihad was 
forged by Muslim jurists primarily in response to the imperial 
politics of the Abbasid caliphate on the one hand and the 
Byzantine Empire on the other. Abrogating the Meccan 
experience and predicating itself on selected verses of the 
Qur'an, one finds the following: "And fight them on until 
there is no more oppression and tumult ifitiitib) and religion 
should be for God" (2:193). Classical scholars developed a 
doctrine of jihad in which the world is simply divided into a 
dichotomy ol dm die territory of Islam (clii ) and 

the territory of war (dar al-harb). In accordance with this 
belligerent paradigm, a permanent state ot war (jihad) charac- 
terized relations between the two abodes. The only way a 
non-Muslim territory could avert a jihad was either to con- 
vert to Islam or to pay an annual tribute or poll tax ( yiib) 
The classical belief erroneously perceived of jihad as the 
: of the Islamic caliphate to expand Muslim 

11 r'VN^.': i -j£=£ — - - ^- - ■ " * __^_™-^ 

Though most Muslii irtists refrain from creati i piesentations of the prophet Muhammad and hisfamily, this 1368 Turkish book 
painting depicts the Prophet, with his face covered by a white cloth, leading his disciples on horseback to Badr to confront the pagan 
Meccan army. The Art Archive/Topkapi Museum Istanbul/Harper Collins Publishers 

This controversial interpretation of jihad failed to capture 
the full range of the term's rich meaning'. The reduciionisi 
interpretation of jihad, though not unanimous, came to 
dominate subsequent Muslim juristic thinking. One of the 
earliest scholars who represented an alternative perspective 
was Sufyan al-Thawri (b. 715). Al-Thawri believed that jihad 
was only justified in defense. The classical doctrine of jihad 
has and continues to be challenged by Muslim jurists. A 
number of modern Muslim reform movements have em- 
ployed the classical doctrine of jihad to legitimate their 
struggles against colonial or poslcolonial secular state rule. 
Other contemporary Muslim scholars, such as Muhammad 
Abu Zahra, Mahmud Shaltut, Muhammad al Ghunaimi, 
Louay M. Salt, and Ridwan al Sayyid, have criticized the 
classical doctrine of jihad as being seriously flawed since it 
violates sonic ol the essential Islamic principles on the ethics 
of war. Safi has written objecting to the classical doctrine: 
"Evidently, the classical doctrine of war and peace has not 
been predicated on a comprehensive theory. The doctrine 
describes the factual conditions that historically prevailed 
betv ecu the Islamic state, during the 'Abassid and Byzantium 
era, and thus, renders rules which respond to specific histori- 
cal needs" (Safi, p. 44). 

Safi and Al-Sayyid as well as a number of other contempo- 
rary scholars hold that the classical doctrine of hegemonic 
jihad is contingent on a historical context and thus has a 
limited application. They have argued for a recovery of the 

alternative interpretation of classical scholars, such as Malik 
ibn Anas, the founder of the Maliki school of Islamic jurispru 
dence, who identified a third option, the territory of peaceful 
covenant or coexistence or (dar-al-sulh or c ahd). He had in 
mind the long-standing cordial relationship that had existed 
between the early Muslims and the Abyssinian Christian 
state. He recalled that the prophet Muhammad himself had 
sent the earliest group of his followers from Mecca to seek 
refuge from persecution in Abyssinia. They lived there peace- 
fully for many years, and some of them did not return, even 
after Muslims were in power in Mecca. Moreover, the Prophet 
had advised peaceful coexistence with the Abyssinians, re- 
portedly saying: "Leave the Abyssinians in peace as long as 
they leave you in peace." Safi contends that the fact that the 
carh Muslims did not make any attempts to turn Abyssinia 
into an Islamic slate is sufficient evidence that a third way, 
the "Abyssinian paradigm." was an Islamically sanctioned 
alternath e. 

The alternative paradigm represented by the Abyssinian 

model was marginalized and ignored by the partisan interpre 
tations of the classical Muslim jurists. Contemporary Mus- 
lims are currently reclaiming this third paradigm of peaceful 
coexistence. Others called on contemporary Muslims to 
reclaim the rich Sufi tradition on conflict transformation by 
relinking the lesser jihad to that of the greater jihad (p. 108). 
Both have profound implications for expanding Muslim re- 
sources lor conflict transformation and peace building efforts. 

J ' !/a i i i a tin coloi insert. 

See also Fitna; 'Ibadat; Jihad; Political Islam. 


Abou El Fadl, Khaled. Rebellion and I 'io/ei/ee in Islamic Lure. 

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 
Armstrong, Karen. A lit I < '//nil I Bi '.',' ' i o\ thi P iphet 

San Francisco, Calif: Harper San Francisco, 1992. 
Chittick, William, trans. The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual 

Teachings of Rum/. Albany: State University of New York 

Press, 1983. 
Khadduri, Majid. War and Peace in Islam. New York: AMS 

Press, 1979. 
Lings. Martin.. Muhammad: His Life . lecordii/o to the Earliest 

Sources. New York- Inner Traditions International, 1983. 
Pel tid ilpl ' ! Mod ill 

Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener Publishers, 1996. 
Safi, Louay M. Peace and the Lii/ais of War Transcending 

Classical Conception of jihad, Uerndon, Va.: International 

Institute of Islamic Thought, 2001. 
Said, Abdul Aziz; Funk, Nathan G; and Kadayifci, Ayse S., 

eds. Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam. New York: 

University Press of America, 2001. 

A. Rashied Omar 


In Islam conversion consists of the recitation of ihe shahada or 
profession of faith which is composed of two affirmations 
from the Qur'an that have been integrated to form a single 
declaration of faith in the uniqueness and oneness of God and 
the finality of His revelation to the prophet Muhammad. It 
reads "There is no god but God [Allah, the Arabic proper 
name for God used by both Arabic speaking Muslims and 
Christians], e.nd Muhammad is the Messenger of God." The 
Qur'an uses the terms "The Messenger of God" and "The 
Prophet" synonymously to refer to Muhammad, who is 
implicitly declared to be the last of God's genuine prophets. 

Some Muslim scholars, among them the renowned Per- 
sian mystic, philosopher, and theologian al ( fliazali (1058-1111 
c.e.), are of the opinion that a declaration of intent (niya), 
made prior to the recitation of the shahada, is necessary for its 
validity and for the validity of such ritual acts as prayer, 
fasting, and almsgiving. On the other hand man) Muslim 
lawyers are persuaded that niya is only necessary for the 
validity of prayer {salat). 

In early Islam conversion was not a condition for member- 
ship of the a in ma or Muslim community. Prior to the surren- 
der of Mecca in 629 c.e. the Jews of Medina had the same 

rights and obligations as other members of the wmma. After 
the fall of Mecca to Muhammad the zakat (alms tax) was 
levied on converts to Islam, benevolence being one of the 
chief virtues of the true believer, and the jizya (a personal 
poll-tax to be paid, where possible, in money) was imposed on 
all non-Muslims (with the exception of certain categories of 
persons including women, the poor, the enshn ed, and impov 
erished monks) who wanted to join the iimma. 

Jihad and Conversion 

While the spread of Islam is a religious duty, the Qur'an also 
instructs believers that there should be no compulsion in 
matters of religion (2:256), thus seemingly ruling out coer- 
cion as a means of conversion. There are many scholars of 

Islam, Muslim and non Muslim, who are persuaded, largely 
on die basis of tins text, dial die obligation to perform jihad <»f 
the sword (til jihad In 11 -snyf) — sometimes described as the 
I er form of jihad, in onlrast ti / , >ormoraland 

spiritual jihad, as the greater form is only legitimate where 
the free practice of Islam is impeded. 

Where jihad of the sword is contemplated there is the 
obligation of die summons tltbt: , which is based on Qur'an 
17:15 and 16:25. The summons is meant to inform those to be 
attacked that Islam does not intend to pursue war for material 
gain such as property but for the purpose of defending or 
strengthening Islam. There are differences of opinion be- 
tween the four principal Snnni schools of law (viiidbtibib) on 
the necessity of da'wa for people who have previously been 
summoned to Islam. TheMalikites believe it to be obligatory 
in this case also, the llanalites recommend it, and the Shafites 
and Hanbalites say it is a matter of indifference. 

Islam has rarely spread, in the sense of converting large 
numbers of non Muslims of a territory, through jihad of the 
sword. The fundamentalist eighteenth-century reform move- 
ment in Arabia, the Wahhabiyya, as it is called by its oppo- 
nents and by Europeans — the members referred to themselves 
as the Muwahiddun or Unitarians — was essentially a reform 
movement, not a drive to convert non-Muslims. Where and 
when jihad of the sword has been used its effect has usually 
been to establish a Muslim as the ruler of a territory, an 
outcome dial was by no means always iol lowed by large scale 
attempts to convert the local population. A partial explana- 
tion for this can be found in Islamic political theory according 
to which the imposition of Muslim rule over a territory is 
sufficient to make that territory part of dar al-islam (the 
abode of Islam). The principal carriers of Islam have been 
holy men, jurists, traders, and, in the case of the spread of 
Islam to the Western world in modern times, economic 
migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers 

In the time of the prophet Muhammad, conversion by 

com] nest and 'political submission was basically limited to two 
, the Bedouins of Arabia and the Berbers of the 

Maghrib. After the prophet Muhammad's death in 632 c.e. 
the military conquest of the Fertile Crescent and Egypt was 
swift but did not account for the conversion of most of the 
population of these regions. This w as to come about through 
a process of acculturation as the local people moved from the 
rural areas to the garrison towns (amsar) such as Qa\ raw an 
(Maghrib). Knfa (Iraq), and Basra (Iraq), as traders, crafts- 
men, laborers, and domestics who over time adopted the 
Arabic language and Islam. 

Trade, Commerce, Sufism/Mysticism, and Conversion 

The image non-Muslims in many parts of the world have had 
and continue to have of Islam is that of a progressive, modern 
religion offering literacy, a widely spoken language, numeracy, 
and the opportunity to participate in a wider commercial, 
political, and trading network. Islam often spread very slowly 
and even laboriously, its own progress greatly affected by the 
changing local economic, political, and religious situation in 
which it found itself. Islam's development in the Malay- 
Indonesian archipelago is a case in point. Archaeology tells us 
that by the late eleventh century there was a Muslim presence 
in Indonesia, and it would not be surprising given the com- 
mercial attraction of the archipelago and its role as a natural 
staging post between the Middle East and India on one side 
and China, where there has been a Muslim presence in the 
South from the ninth century, if Islam did not in fact arrive 
even earlier. According to Marco Polo who visited North 
Sumatra in 1292 the kingdom of Ferlak (Perlak) in present- 
day Aceh was already Muslim. If the process of expansion was 
slow it was also peaceful. Only in the fourteenth century did 
Islam spread to Northeast Malaya and Brunei, to the court of 
east Java, and to the southern Philippines. And it was to take 
another two hundred years before it found its way in to other 
parts of the archipelago when Sufism or mysticism (ttisinrtriif), 
in institutionalized and noninstiuitionalized forms, came to 
play a pivotal role in the widespread dissemination of Islam 
among the people of Java and elsewhere. According to tradi- 
tion Islam was brought to Java by nine saints or walls, and 
over a long period of four hundred years more gradually 
penetrated the society at all levels, never, however, displacing 
entirely other religious traditions. 

The importance of Sufism in the conversion of large 
numbers to Islam elsewhere can hardly be exaggerated. The 
conversion of Bengal, like that of Java, is also attributed to 
Sufis. Institutionalized forms of Sufism and principal h the 
Sufi tariqas or brotherhoods, among them the Qadiriyya, 
Tijaniyya, and Sanusiyya orders, were crucial to the expan- 
sion of Islam in North Africa and Africa south of die Sahara, 
as were the Mevlevi and Bektashi Sufi brotherhoods in 

The indispensable role performed by traders, scholars, 
and holy men in laying the foundations o'i Islam is evident 
almost everywhere from the medieval empires of Takrur, 

< diana, Mali, Kanem Bornn, ami Songhay, lo the Nile Valley . 
t±ie Horn, and the East African coast, and across much of the 
Asian sub-continent, Central Asia, and as far as China. In all 
of these regions Islam first arrived with traders who were 
often clerics or were accompanied by clerics and/or holy men. 
We know from a variety of sources including the travel 
writings of the fourteenth-century Moroccan Ibn Battuta 
(1304-1368/77 c.e.) that the first Muslims in ancient Ghana, 
Mali, China, Indonesia, Somalia, and elsewhere lived sepa 
rately and followed their own war of life, making little or no 
attempt to convert others. In places this period of seclusion 
was followed by one of engagement with the wider society 
that usually resulted in mixing or syncretism, a development 
that gave rise to conservative reaction, sometimes in the form 
of jihad of the sword. 

Exile, Slavery, Economic Migration, and Conversion 

Political exiles, convicts, and slaves have also been important 
vehicles for the disseminatii in of Islam as in the case of South 
Africa, where such people began to arrive from Southeast 
Asia in the mid-seventeenth century and formed the Cape 
Mala) Muslim community. From the mid-nineteenth cen- 
turj Muslims arrived from India to form another distinct 
Islamic community, some coming as British-indentured la- 
bor to work on the sugar plantations, others as merchants and 
traders, and others as haw kers. 

Economic migration has been the main vehicle for the 
spread of Islam to the Western world in modern times. No 
more than an exotic appendage to western European religion 
in the mid-twentieth century, largely through migration, the 
Muslim faith has become increasingly familiar across the 
European Union, and comprises an estimated fifteen million 
members, including relatively large numbers of converts 
from Christianity and other faiths. While there are no reli- 
able statistics, the number of Muslims in North America 
would appear to be over four million and the number of 
mosques to serve them about two thousand. 

The Political, Cultural, and Religious Consequences 
of Conversion 

Thus, in the spread and development of Islam, military 
conquest has never been as important or effective as the 
creation of an Islamic environment, educational system, trad- 
ing networks, and generally the building up of Muslim 
institutions. It was these initiatives that facilitated the devel- 
opment of Islam in Iran over several centuries from a small 
community of mainly Arab Muslims to one that included the 
majority of the population by the early years ol the eleventh 
century. Sometimes conversion was an individual affair, some 
times it was collective in the sense that if the leader of a 
community or ethnic group converted the rest of the people 
would follow. 


notwithstanding, it is worth noting that the estab- 
of Muslim rule in a territory, whether by conquest 

or by peaceful means, did not necessarily constitute a chal- 
lenge to the existing political order nor was it necessarily the 
prelude to a campaign by the new government to convert all 
of the inhabitant;; of that territory to Islam Where jihad of 
the sword has been employed it needs to be remembered that 
the primary objective has not always been expansion but the 
reform of the Muslim community, as in the case of the 
Wahhabiyya movement and as was most likely the case with 
the Sokoto jihad in northern Nigeria in the late eighteenth 
and early nineteenth century. 

Examples abound where Muslim rule led to little or no 
immediate change for the majority of the population under it. 
In Egypt, Coptic Christians were given governmental posts 
until the fourteenth century when pressure from the ulema 
(scholars) forced a change. While the Muslim conquest of 
India eliminated the dominant Hindu political military class. 
the Chhatri, it confirmed the privileged status of the Brahmins 
who remained the guardians of a cultural vision that was non- 
Muslim. Even at the height of its power the Muslim commu- 
nity consisted of only a quarter of the population of Delhi and 
Agra. And the Muslim conquest of Iran and the surrounding 
regions initially favored the spread of other faiths, among 
them Neslorianism and Manichaeism, rather than Islam. In 
Java the introduction of Islam offered a new dimension to 
existing traditional, Buddhist, and Hindu religious beliefs and 
practices, bringing few significant changes to the political life 
of society. 

Where Muslims conquer non-Muslim territory Muslim 
canon law (shari'a) guarantees to protect the life, liberty, and, 
in a modified way, the property of that section of the local 
population that has not been captured in arms. These people 
are known as ahl-al-dhimniti (people of the covenant) or 
simply as dhimmh. All free adults who enjoy Jhimmi status 
must pay the above-mentioned^'z'zytf or poll-tax and pay a tax 
{kharaj) on then real estate, over which they no longer enjoy 
the right of disposal. Strictly speaking, the status oldlu/t/mis is 
open only to "people of scripture" (alh-al-kitab), that is, Jews, 
Christians, and Sabaeans, a category that is interpreted to 
cover Zoroastrians. In practice most Muslim countries will 
tolerate all peoples regardless of « iiether they are "people of 
scripture" or not. 

Where dhimmi status was granted it carried with it the 
obligation to contribute toward the maintenance of Muslim 
armies, to dress differently from Muslims, and to renounce 
such rights as the right to bear arms and to ride on horseback. 
Legal restrictions were also imposed in relation to testimony 
in law courts, protection under criminal law, and marriage. 
Apart from such restrictions, what in practice happens is that 
a non Muslim community in a Mu lim I le virtually go ern 
itself under its own responsible leader who acts as its link with 
the Muslim government. And where conversion to or from 
Islam is concerned it is expected that the leadership of the 

community that has made the conversion will inform its 
counterpart of the event. 


This account of the dynamics of conversion to Islam confines 
itself for the most part to the Muslim world. It is not 
exhaustive nor could it be given the great complexity and 
cultural diversity of that world. Appearance to the contrary 
notwithstanding, it is not intentionally reductionist. If greater 
consideration has been given to what might be termed the 
human, material, observable aspects of the phenomenon of 
conversion, and little has been said of its intellectual, spiri- 
tual, and theological dimensions, this should not be taken to 
mean that these dimensions are not more important elements 
of the process of becoming a Muslim or being Muslim. 

Conversion in Islam is a radical call to reject all that 
associates the human with the divine, and on this foundation 
engages the convert in the task of personal and social trans- 
formation. It is a dynamic and mullifaceted process of trans- 
formation that in some cases is gradual and in others abrupt; 
in some cases total, in others partial. 

The path to Islam is more varied than outlined above. As 
students of conversion to Islam are aware individuals and 
whole communities have come to Islam having been first 
influenced by the personal example of a practicing Muslim, or 
through a process of intellectual conversion in which schol- 
arly literature has played an important part, or through 
guidance given in a dream or a vision in which a wall or holy 
person, and even the prophet Muhammad himself, have 
appeared as counselors and guides, through mystical experi- 
ences, as a result of a search for healing, protection, and 
security, and for order and discipline in one's life. Either all or 
a combination of these triggers, and others, have activated the 
interest of individuals and communities in Islam and led to 

See also Da'wa; Expansion; Minorities: Dhimmis; 


Clarke, Peter B, ed. Ate' Trench unci Developments in The 
World of Islam. London: Luzac Oriental, 1998. 

Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck, ed. The Muslims of America. New 
York and Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1991. 

Horton, Robin. "African Conversion." Africa 41 (1971): 

Katz, E. Ulrich. "Islam in Indonesia." In Islam. Edited by 
Peter B. Clarke. London: Routledge, 1990. 

Shaban, M. "Conversion to Early Islam." In Conversion to 
Islam. Edited by Nehemia Levtzion. New York: Holmes 
andMaier, 1979. 


Both the word "crusades'" and its Arabic equh alent, til hiirub 
,ii salihiwah. are modern terms. What these words refer to, 
however, can be quite different depending on who is using 
them. The dominant trend in secular academic research on 
the ( crusades since the 1970s has been one of expansion of the 
topic in terms of activities and military campaigns included, 
of time span, and of geographic expanse. Despite this 
revisionism, there is little doubt that in the popular parlance 
of nonspecialists, the Crusades refers to the almost two- 
century-long presence (1097-1291 c.e.) of Latin Christians 
from central and western Europe in the Holy Land of the 
eastern Mediterranean coastal strip. Thus, while events after 
1291 — such as the Christian reconquest of Spain, campaigns 
against heretics in or on the borders of Latin Christendom, or 
the European conflicts with the Ottoman Empire — are now 
within the domain of current scholarship on the Crusades 
(particularly in Europe), they do not figure large in the 
discourse of the Crusades ongoing in the contemporary 
population of the lloh Land. 

Overview of the Crusades 

At the Council of Clermont in 1095, Pope Urban II delivered 
a sermon that set in motion the (crusades. Precisely what he 
said is unknown, nor is there agreement as to his motivations 
and goals, but in the aftermath of Clermont, clergy, nobles, 
and commoners mobilized for campaigns to reconquer Jeru- 
salem, which had been in Muslim hands since 638 c.e. While 
what comes next follows the common shorthand of referring 
to major Crusade campaigns by numbers, it should be em- 
phasized that this practice does not take into account the 
steady stream of armed pilgrims flowing into and out of the 
Holy Land nor the numerous smaller milium campaigns that 
they undertook. 

The First Crusade (1097-1101) resulted in the establish- 
ment of four Crusader states in lands of the eastern Mediter- 
ranean littoral: the County of Edessa, the Principality of 
Antioch, the County of Tripoli (although the city itself was 
not captured until 1109), and the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 
light of the obstacles these first crusaders faced in their long 
journey east — shortages of supplies, uneasy relations with the 
Byzantine Empire, travel across rough and unfamiliar terrain 
inhabited by hostile populations, lack of organization, and 
internal rivalries, to name but a few — this initial success was 
remarkable. Indeed, the First ( a'usade almost ended at Antioch 
between 1097 and 1098, where the Crusaders first laid siege 
to the Muslims for several trying months, and upon victory 
were subsequently besieged themselves by numerically supe- 

This Crusader victory is usually linked to the di 
opposition they faced. In the late eleventh century c.e., thei 

was no single powerful Muslim state to oppose the ir 
the ifranj (Franks), as the Muslims called the invaders. In 
many cities of the Seljnk confederation, military authorities 
known as atabegs were busy establishing their autonomy, and 
were often preoccupied by rivalries with other local Muslim 
rulers. The Sunni Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad was unable 
to directly influence military affairs. The Shi'ite Fatimid 
caliphate in Cairo il el] engaged in a struggle gain I the 
Seljuks for control of Jerusalem, did comparatively little to 
counter the Crusader incursion. In the words of the Muslim 
chronicler Ibn al-Athir: "When the Franks — may God curse 
them — extended their control over what the', had conquered 
of the lands of Islam, and it turned out well for them that the 
troops and the kings of Islam were preoccupied with fight- 
ing each other, at thai time opinions were divided among 
the Muslims, desires differed and wealth was squandered" 
(Hillenbrand, 31). Over the next four decades the Crusaders 
entrenched themselves in the landscape of Outremer (liter- 
ally, "across-the sea"), skirmished with the Muslims, and 
began the construction of numerous castles, made necessary 
by their constant shortage of manpov er. 

The first major success of the Muslim counter-Crusade 
was achieved by the Turkish military leader Zangi, the atabeg 
of Mosul and Aleppo. After consolidating his control over 
northern Syria anil thejazira (northwestern Iraq), he launched a 
series of campi c> i i linst tin Cra dei ulminalin in hi 
capture of Edessa in 1144. Zangi's elimination of this Cru- 
sader state gave added impetus to calls in Europe for another 
major Crusade. Forces of the Second Crusade subsequently 
arrived in Syria in 1 147, and after heated discussion between 
the resident Crusaders and the nev, arm als, decided to attack 
Damascus, ironically one of the Muslim cities whose ruler up 
to that point had coexisted with the Franks. This campaign 
ended in defeat for the Crusaders on the outskirts of Damas- 
cus in July 1148. 

Zangi's career as a counter-Crusader was cut short by his 
assassination in 1 146, but was continued by his son Nur al- 
Din. Nur al-Din expanded the area under his control, occu- 
pying Damascus in 1154, and, utilizing the vocabulary of 
jihad, he launched attacks against the Franks. In response to 
numerous Crusader sorties agamst Egypt in the 1160s, Nur 
al Din sent a contingent of his forces to aid the Fatimid stale.. 
This force v. as led In the Kurdish general Shirkuh, who had 
in his service his nephew Salah al-Din Yusuf b. Ayyub, 
subsequently known as Saladin to the Crusaders. Upon his 
uncle's death, Saladin took command of this force, and by 
March 1169, took control of Eg\ pt, subsequently bringing 
the Fatimid Caliphate to an end. Following the death of Nur 
al Din in J 174, Saladin moved against his former overlord's 
heirs and brought Damascus and eventually most of Syria 
(Aleppo submitted in 1183) and thejazira (Mosul submitted 
in 1186) under his control. He then mounted a major cam- 
paign against the Franks, defeating the bulk of their forces at 

the battle of the Horns of Hattin 
1187. Jerusalem fell to him by Oc 
the Crusader holdin 
coastal cities. 

Iberius on 4 July 

of that year, and 

reduced to a few castles and 

These victories made Saladin a hero. A contemporary 
poet wrote of him, 

You took possession of Paradises palace by palace, 

When you conquered Syria fortress by fortress. 

Indeed, the religion of Islam has spread its blessings 
over created beings, 

But it is you who have glorified it. (Hillenbrand 
1999, p. 179) 

The defeat of the Latin forces also sparked the Third 
Crusade (1189-1192), in which three European monarchs 
were personally involved: the German emperor Frederick I, 
King Philip II of France, and King Richard 1 1 the Lionheart 5 
of England. Frederick drowned in Anatolia on his way to 
Outremer, and Philip and Richard quarreled from the mo- 
ment of their arrival in the Latin East. Nevertheless, their 
combined forces helped recapture Acre, henceforth the capi- 
tal of the truncated Kingdom of Jerusalem. After Philip's 
return to France, Richard led a series of campaigns against 
Saladin and, by his departure in 1192, had aided in the 
reestablishment of Latin control over most of the coastal 
cities and their immediate hinterlands, 

Saladin's death in 1193 provided a temporary respite to 
the Crusaders, as his successors (collectively known as the 
Ayyubids, from the name of Saladin's father) engaged in 
struggles over preeminence in the lands that had been united 
by Saladin. in die e truggie ;om Vyyubid princes were not 
idversi to making emporan allianci with he Nan! against 
their Ayyubid rivals. The diversion of the Fourth Crusade 
(1204) to Constantinople, which was sacked and subsequently 
occupied, did little to change this situation in Outremer. 
These divisions among the Ayyubids contributed to the 
complex narrative of the Fifth Crusade (1217-1229). Recog- 
nizing the strategic importance ol Egypt, this crusade began 
with the Franks besieging and eventually occupying the 
Fgy plian port city of Damietta. In the face of intra- Ayyubid 
rivalries, the Ayyubid ruler of Egypt, al Malik al Kamil, 
offered to give Jerusalem to the Franks if they would leave 
Egypt, but the Crusaders refused. By 1221, the Crusaders 
were forced out of Egypt. The Fifth Crusade came to an end 
in the bizarre events of 1228-1229, in which the emperor 
Frederick II, excommunicated for his delays in fulfilling his 
crusading v< >u s, successfully negotiated a treaty with al-Malik 
al-Kamil allowing the Christians to take control of certain 

sades 1096-1229. XNR Productions, Inc ,/Gali 

sites in Jerusalem, yet was bombarded with offal by the 
residents of Acre as he left to return to Europe. The last 
Crusader presence in Jerusalem was eliminated in 1244, when 
the city was sacked by Kharazmian warriors, themselves 
displaced from their homelands by the Mongol invasions 
from Central Asia. 

The final major crusade to the Latin East was that of King 
Louis IX of France (1248-1254). Louis and his forces suc- 
ceeded in capturing Damietta in 1249, but were subsequently 
defeated atMansura in 1250 by the forces of the late Ayyubid 

ruler of Egypt, al-Malik al-Salih. Upon surrender and pay- 
ment of a large ransom, Louis went to Acre, where he spent 
four years strengthening fortifications before returning 

To understand the end of the Crusader presence in 
Outremer, one must return to events of 1249-1250. During 
the course of Louis's Crusade in late 1249, the Ayyubid al- 
Malik al-Salih died. When his son Turanshah arrived from 
Syria in early 1250 to succeed his father, he took steps to limit 
the influence of key groups among his father's supporters. 

Saladin, an early Muslim hero, conquered Egypt, most of Syria, 
and finally even Jerusalem by 1187. His victories banished the 
Crusaders from most territories; they began another Crusade, 
however, by 1 189. © Corbis-Bettmann 

The main target of Turanshah's punitive actions was the 
corps of his father's mamluks, or military slaves. In his 
struggles against his Ayyubid rivals, al Malik al Salih had 
built up a sizable regiment of these military slaves, who while 

still youths had been purchased as slaves from regions outside 
the Islamic world ami subsequently converted to Islam and 
trained in military techniques. I lis regiment was know n as the 
Bahri mamluks, since their barracks were located on an island 
in the river (bahr) Nile. Faced with loss of influence and 
possibly life, these mamluks of al Malik al Salih turned against 
Turanshah, and murdered him shortly after the victory of 

After this regicide, the history of the subsequent decade of 
the history of Muslim Egypt and Syria is dominated by a 
complex struggle for power, further complicated by the 
Mongol invasions. The decade ended with the definitive 
establishment of the Mamluk Sultanate in 1260 by Baybars, 
one of those Bahri mamluks. After consolidating Mamluk 
control, Sultan Baybars launched his forces against the Cru- 
saders, capturing Antioch (in 1268) and several major Cru- 
sader castles, After Baybars' death in 1277 there was a brief 
lull, but attacks against the Crusaders resumed later in the 

reign of the Sultan Qalav, un, who conquered Tripoli shortly 
before his death in 1289. Upon the capture of Acre in 1291 by 
the forces of Qalawun's son, al-Ashraf Khalil, the few Cru- 
saders left on the coastal strip abandoned their holdings and 
fled, thus bringing Frankish presence in Outremer to an end, 
although no one at the time realized it. In order to discourage 
Crusader attempts to reoccupy the Muslim coastal cities, the 
Mamluks razed their fortifications. 

The Crusades in the Muslim World Today 

A survey of scholarly literature and public discourse in the 
modern Muslim world reveals that the Crusades have great 
relevance and resonance today. They are commonly seen as 
the forerunner of the European colonial efforts of the first 
half of the twentieth century, placed in the context of per- 
ceived centuries of Western antagonism to the Islamic world, 
and often explicitly linked to the establishment of the modern 
state of Israel. (Crusade references appeared, for example, in a 
series of post-1956 Suez crisis Egyptian postage stamps 
celebrating Egypt as "Tomb of the Invader." One stamp 
celebrates Saladin's victory at Hattin; a second shows Louis 
IX in chains after his defeat at Mansura.) It is not uncommon 
to find references to Saladin and his victory at Hattin in 
political speeches or celebrated in books. In 1992, a larger- 
than-life statue of Saladin was unveiled in Damascus. The 
Crusades also figure in some modern Islamist writing, in 
which the failures of current leaders to resist Western 
•e compared to the successes of the heroes of the 
r-Crusades. And while Hillenbrand (and others) have 
pointed out die pitfalls of the anachronistic use of nationalis 
tic labels in the study of medieval history, the symbols and 
perceived lessons of the Crusades have been incorporated 
into the rhetoric of Arab nationalist movements in particular. 
Thus in the words of one Arab intellectual, the Crusades 
when viewed through Arab eyes are seen as an act of rape 
(Maalouf, 266). 

See also Christianity and Islam; Saladin. 


Hillenbrand, Carole. The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives. Chi- 
cago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999. 

Maalouf, Amin. The Crusades Through . Irub Eyes. London: Al 
Saqi Books, 1984. 

Mayer, Hans Eberhard. The Crusades. 2d ed. Translated 
by John Gillingham. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University 
Press, 1986. 

Riley-Smith, Jonathan. The Crusades: A Short History. New 
Haven, Conn., and London: Yale University Press, 1987. 

Riley-Smith, Jonathan. The Atlas of the Crusades. London and 
New York: Facts on File, 1991. 

Rnnciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades. 3 vols. Cam- 
bridge, U.K.: Cambridge I'nh ersily Press. 1951 1954, 

Warren C. Schultz 



The term dar al-harb, which literally means "the house or 

abode of war," came to signify in classical jurisprudence a 

ical reality; hence, it may also be rendered the "terri- 

In the most basic sense the term indicates territory not 
governed by Islam, in contrast to territory under Islamic rule, 
dar al-islam. More precisely, these territories are geopolitical 
units within which Islam is not th ligion, where 

the ruler is not a Muslim, and where there exists no mecha- 
nism by which political or military leaders may seek the 
counsel of Is! . Use of the phrase dar 

al-harb further indicates the threat of war from the Muslim 
community. Muslim jurists differed on the mechanisms by 
which this threat of war could become a reality. For the 
majority, the leader of I ist fulfill the obligation 

of "calling" the people of a non-Islamic territory to Islam. 
Once a people, through its rulers, refused the opportunity 
(1) to establish Islam as the state religion, or (2) to enter into a 
tributary arrangement with the leader of the Muslims, it was 
understood that war could follow. In accord with normative 
traditions, this war should be understood as an aspect of jihad, 
or the struggle to "make God's cause succeed," specifically by 
spreading Islamic government throughout the earth. It is 
important to note that the purpose of the war to expand the 
territory of Islam was not to make converts, but rather to 

In modern times, the notion of dar al-harb has been 
employed by some Muslims to speak about territories lost to 
the forces of colonialism or, more generally, secularism. In 
this connection, the ruling of the Shah c Abd al-Aziz (d. 1824) 
regarding the status of British India is of great interest. As he 
had it, given British dominance in the subcontinent, India 
should no longer be considered Islamic territory. It was 
rather part of dar al-harb. Mirroring subsequent discussions 
in Islamic political and juridical thought, 'Abd al- Aziz's 

followers drew differing conclusions from his ruling, some 
tcularlyin the 
field of education, was a necessary prelude to a renewal of 
Islam and its cultural influence. Others were more inclined 
toward direct action with .tish withdrawal. 

See also Dar al-islam. 


Kelsay, John. Islam, and War: A Study in Comparative Ethics. 

Louisville, Ky. >x Press, 1993. 

Shaybani, Muhammad ibn Hasan al-. The Islamic Law of 

Nations. Translated by Majid Khadduri. Baltimore, Md.: 

John Kelsay 


The term dar al-islam, which literally means "the house or 
abode of Islam," came to signify Islamic territory in juridical 
discussions. For the majority, it is thus suggestive of a geopo- 
litical unit, in which Islam is established as the religion of the 
state, in contrast to dar al-harb, territory not governed by 
Islam. The signs of legitimacy by which one could speak of a 
geopolitical unit as dar al-islam would include a ruler or ruling 
class whose self-identity is Islamic, some institutional mecha- 
nisms by which consultation between the political and relig- 
ious elite is possible, and a commitment to engage in political 
and military struggle to extend the borders of the dar al-islam. 

For others, the relationship between dar al-islam and 
existing political arrangements was not so easily negotiated. 
Thus, in one tradition the proto-Shi c a leader Ja'far al-Sadiq 
(d. 765) is presented as suggesting that the territory of Islam 
exists wherever people are free to practice Islam and to 
engage in calling others to faith — even if the leadership in 
such a place does not acknowledge or establish Islam as the 

state religion. Correlatively, a territory in which the ruler or 
ruling class identifies with Islam, but where the (true) inter- 
pretation of Islamic sources is suppressed, is not dar al islam, 
but something else. 

In the modern period, one of the most vexing questions 
for jurists, and indeed for Muslims generally, has to do with 
the ongoing power of ihe symbol of dar ai 'islam. The experi 
ence of colonialism, the demise of ihe historic caliphate, and 
the formation of modern states present serious challenges to 
those who would follow classical precedent and utilize this 
symbol. One line of thought, expressed most succinctly by 
Shah <Abd al-'Aziz (d. 1824), held that the influx of British 
power meant that India was no longer dar al-islam. As such, 
the Muslim community was under an obligation to struggle 
and bring about the restoration of Islamic influence. Others, 
by contrast, understood the classical use of the term as 
connected with an outmoded and even non-Islamic emphasis 
on empire. For these, in ways analogous to the thinking of 
Ja'far al-Sadiq, Islam "abides" wherever Muslims practice 
their religion and call others to faith. 

See ako Dar al-Harb. 


I 1 h 'in / lll'a udy in Com ' 

Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993. 

Shaybani, Muhammad ibn Hasan al-. The Islamic Law of 
Nations. Translated by Majid Khadduri. Baltimore, Md.: 
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1966. 

John Kclsay 


Since the late nineteenth century, conceptions of da'wa have 
re-emerged as central in the formulation of Islam. Da'wa is 
increasingly associated with socially vital activities, such as 
edification, education, conversion, and charity. However, the 
term also alludes to the Qurian and the normative Islamic 
history. Due to this combination, da'wa lias become a func- 
tional tool in face of the challenges of modernity. Da'wa is 
sometimes equated with Christian ideas of mission and 
evangelization. Muslims themselves are, as a rule, wary of that 
comparison; and indeed, such translations tend to overlook 
the variations and socio political specificity of da'wa. This 
term has been conceptualized, institutionalized, and applied 
for divergent purposes throughout the course of history. 
Furthermore, Muslim endeavors to convert non Muslims to 
Islam have often been understood in terms other than da'wa. 
This is true, for instance, of the significant Sufi ventures of 
recruitment, which historical!) largely appear to have been 
disinterested in da'wa terminology. Thus, da'wa should be 
regarded as but one type of Islamic discourse of mobilization, 
n conflict v, ith others. 

This entry introduces the range of conceptions of da'wa, 
paying attention to scriptural occurrence, historical develop 
menl, and. finally, modern understandings and organizations. 

Scriptural Occurrence 

The word da'wa is derh ed from an Arabic consonant-root, d- 
'-W, with several meanings, such as call, invite, persuade, pn» , 
invoke, bless, demand, and achieve. Consequently, the noun 
da'wa has a number of connotations too. In the QuFan and 
thesunna, da'wa partly has a mundane meaning and refers to, 
for instance, the invitation to a wedding. Sometimes the 
mundane and spiritual meanings are interconnected. In one 
account of the sunna (Bukhari), the invitation to Islam is 
allegorically referred to as an invitation to a banquet. Spelled 
with a long final vowel, the word means lawsuit. 

Theologically, da'wa refers to the call of God to Islam, 
conveyed by the prophets: "God summons to the Abode of 
Peace" (10:25). Like the previous prophets, Muhammad is 
referred to as "God's caller" or "God's invitor," da'i Allah 
(46:31). God's call has to be distinguished from the false 
da'wa of Satan (14:22). Conversely, da'wa refers to the human 
call directed to God in (mental) prayer or invocation. The 
One God answers the da'wa directed to Him, whereas the 
prayers of the unbelievers are futile. The human da'wa is the 
affirmative response to the da'wa of God. It is not to be 
confused with wlat, ritual prayer. When referring to human 
prayer or invocation, the Qur'an makes no distinction be- 
tween da'wa and du'a, a related form of the same consonant- 
root. During the course of theological history, however, the 
term du'a evolved into a particular, technical concept, de- 
scribed and regulated in philosophical and devotional works, 
not least in handbooks of prayer. 

Apart from affirming God's call in prayer, however, hu- 
mankind is invited to live in accordance with the will of God: 
"Let there be one nation (umma) of you, calling to the good, 
enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong" (3:104). 
Thus da'wa is intimately interconnected with shari'a. the 
sacred law. As illustrated by verse 3:104, cited above, da'wa 
also has a social dimension in the Qur'an. The community of 
believers, the umma, who have received the invitation, shall 
convey the message to others. A commonly cited verse reads: 
"Call men to the way of the Lord with goodness and fair 
exhortatii m and have arguments with them in the best man- 
ner" (16:125). This verse, in turn, is commonly connected to 
the equally familiar verse: "Let there be no compulsion in 
religion" (2:256), Finally, there is an eschatological dirnen 
sion of da'wa. At the end of time, the archangel fibril (Ca 
briel) will call humans from their graves: "Then when He 
calls you by a single call from the earth, behold you come 
forth at once" (30:25). 

All in all, the Qui anic conceptualizations of da'wa conjoin 
a number of fundamental principles of Islamic theology , First 
of all, da'wa animates Islamic doctrine into an effective 

vocation, by interconnecting and urging humans to recog- 
nize the two core principles of the creed, as rendered in the 
shahada: "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the 
messenger of ( >< >d." Acknon ledging and responding lo Cod's 
da'wa further means reo ignizing the sacredness of the ii/iiiiia 
and implementing shari'a. Last but not least, da'wa refers to 
the invitation of humankind to afterlife. It is, thus, hardly 
surprising that da'wa sometimes is presented as interchange- 
able with the concept of Islam itself. 

Historical Development 

After the death of Muhammad (632 < .1 .), the leadership of the 
Muslim community became a controversial issue. A group 
culled Shi'at Ali, later 10 he known as Shi'a, argued dial Ali, 
Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, and his descendants 
were the rightful caliphs, that is, \ icegerents of the Prophet. 
'Ali was eventually appointed caliph, and he is included as the 
fourth among the first four caliphs who Sunnites generally 
celebrated as righteous. In 661 he was killed, however, and 
the Umayyad dynasty, based in Damascus, established a 
hereditary rule. During the eighth century, the legitimacy of 
the Umayyads was increasingly put into question. Based in 
Baghdad, the Abbasids were accusing them for claiming 
kingship, ////ilk, thus vesting human leadership with an attrib- 
ute and power that only God possesses. The lavish customs of 
the Damascus court underscored the anti-Umayyad da'wa. 

In this sense, da'wa came to inherit a religio-political 
dimension, being the call to accept the rightful leadership of a 
certain individual or family. Da'wa in the religio-political 
sense aimed at establishing or restoring the ideal theocratic 
state, based on monotheism. Here da'wa can be understood as 
political propaganda inflated by Qurianic terminology. In 
spite of variations in the use of the term throughout history, 
this has been a recurring tendency. 

Da'wa thus became mainly an internal Muslim matter. 
However, the external aspect of da'wa, "calling mankind," 
acquired increasing juridical importance in connection with 
the military expansion of Islam. According to the classical 
theory of jihad of the early Muslim conquests, '.-. arfare against 
non-Muslims could not be undertaken, nor could the protec- 
tive tax of non Muslims, jizya, be levied, had not a summons 
to Islam, da'wa, been issued. During the late eighth century 
foni adhnhib I ' chool il ii mi I {/, , ' 1 dei 1 I 

oped. Here da'wa was formalized into a set of judicial princi- 
ples and rules included in martial law. 

An important example of the application of da'wa in 
history is the case of the Shi'ite Fatimids. Between 969 and 
1171 they ruled a vast empire, with Cairo as the capital. For 
the Fatimids, who belong to the Isma'ili branch of Shi'a, 
da'wa meant the appeal to give allegiance to the seventh 
imam, Muhammad b. Isma'ih Initially, their propaganda was 
directed against followers of the main branch of Shi'a, the 
Imamis or Twelvers. As their power grew, the Fatimid da'wa 

turned against the Ahbasid Sunnites. challenging their caliphal 

The Fatimids amplified the concept of da'wa in accord- 
ance with Shi'ite doctrines of permanent revelation through 
the imams. The da'wa of the imam was held to complete the 
da'wa of the prophet Muhammad. The Fatimid da'wa dif- 
fered from the Ahbasid da'wa in that it slid not cease after 1 he- 
establishment of the dynasty. Rather, it became increasingly 
organized and extensive. Da'wa was thus institutionalized, 
i n i e grating political claims with theological elaboration, cen- 
tered around several educational institutions, most notably 
the al-Azhar University of Cairo. In areas controlled by the 
Fatimids, their da'wa propaganda was overt, while the mes- 
sage was transmitted more secretly in other regions. 

In a functional perspective, the core of the Fatimid use of 
da'wa was similar to that of the Sunnite Abbasids. The 
amplification of da'wa among these competing groups in- 
volved an understanding of political propaganda arid aspira- 
tions based on theological criticism against other rulers. In 
both cases, thus, the core concern was the leadership issue. 
The Qur'anic term da'wa was rendered relevant primarily in 
the context of claims to political power. The Fatimid idea that 
propagation ami acceptance of [slam should not he regarded 
as a singular event, but as a continuous process, forebears 
central themes in modern uses of da'wa. 

From the time of the Fatimids to early modern times, that 
is the late eighteenth and earl) nineteenth centuries, there are 
surprisingly fen references to the concept o( da'wa. Paradoxi 
cally, da'wa discourses seem to have entered a phase of 
despite the significant expansion of Islam that 
in both Asia and Africa. Two of the reasons for this 
imay be the legal formalism and the development of 
Sufism. While the Abbasid and Fatimid regimes relied on an 
Islamic ambience in which da' wa held a p< ditically central and 
strategic importance, Sufis were able to spread their message 
without such an ambience. Authority was vested in their 
leaders or shaykhs, who were often victims of state-centered 
persecution. Such a model of authority facilitated the trans- 
plantation of Islam to new regions, where mass conversions 
could take place. It is true that, with the exception of the 
earliest period, when Sufis were largely individualistic and 
ascetic, Sufism has frequently been politically important. 
However, the logic of Stilt expansion has usually been essen 
tiallv different from state-centered or establishment Islam 
and, as a consequence, not in need of conceptions of da'wa in 
the religio-political sense. 

Since da'wa as early as in the eighth century was a formal 
concept included in martial law, it became part of the Islamic 

jurisprudence, fiqh. From the tenth century onward, Sunnite 
leaders held the apparatus ol fiqh as finalized, "i litis, the gates 
ol ijtihad, (new interpretations based on the main sources of 
Islamic law), the Qur'an, and the sunna, were regarded by 
many jurists as closed. Legal matters were henceforth to be 

guided by taqlid, imitation of previous rulings. With the rise 
oi taqlid oriented fujh. the learned scholars, tilema and f/iqaba, 
were installed as its lawful, if largely impotent, adrninistra 
tors. When the quest for authoritj through personal inter- 
pi tatioi (ijtii id) ind opinion (/ n rendered impossible 
or at least heavily curtailed, there was little or no need for 
da c wa discourse. In this sense, the authority of institutional 
law appears to have contributed to circumventing the central- 
ilyofthei mcepl >,, / hichwa primarily understood in 
terms of the connection between religious legitimacy and 
political power. 

It should be noted, finally, that at least one example of 
da'wa activity since Fatimid times has been recorded by 
scholars, namely a correspondence between the rulers of the 
Ottoman and the Saku id Empires during the early sixteenth 
century. This controversy over religio-political authority 
carries many similarities with the struggle between Abbasids 
and Fatimids. There may well have been others too. Thus, 
one cannot rule out scholarh omission or lack of interest as 
partly responsible for the silence of da'wa after the early 
;s of Islam. 

Modern Times 

European colonialism and Christian mission brought Mus- 
lims into intense encounters with non-Muslim ideas and 
practices. The processes of modernity (secularization, in- 
dividualism, social reorganization, etc.) increasingly trans- 
formed Muslim societies. Technological, educational, and 
infrastructural changes made a lasting impact, and deeply 
rooted Islamic ideas and ways of life were put into question. 
Facing such challenges, man) Muslims felt a need to recon- 
sider or defend Islam, as well as to inform non-Muslim s a I >ou t 
Islamic principles and creeds. In this context, partly novel 
conceptualizations of da'wa claimed a core position in the 
Islamic debates and practices. 

A precursor for the modern use of da'wa was the Ottoman 
sultan Abd al-Hamid II, who ruled between 1876 and 1909. 
Claiming the title of caliph, he took on the responsibility for 
the innma. He included the concept of da'wa in his "imperial 
ideology" and intended to lead Muslims like the Pope leads 
die Catholics. Hence, this is an example of a modern use of 
da'wa discourse for the sake of religio-political authority. 

Of more lasting impact with regard to the rethinking of 
da'wa was the Salafiyya movement, the leading figures of 
which were Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (d. 1897), Muhammad 
'Abduh (d. 1905), and Rashid Rida (d. 1935). Inspired par- 
ticularly by Ibn Taymiyya's (d. 1329) early critique of taqlid 
and legal formalism, they called for the reform of Islamic law 
by reopening the gates of ijtihad. The movement also took a 
decisively critical stance to the influence of secular and 
Christian ideas. Both al-Afghani and, later, Rida were con- 
nected to the pan-Islamic movement that aimed at uniting 
Muslim peoples under the Ottoman caliphate. Rida even 

attempted to launch his small organization, Jamiyal al 
Da'wah wal-Irshad, as a cornerstone of pan-Islamism, indi- 
cating the constancy of the political dimension of da'wa 
conceptions. Of more lasting impact, however, were the 

Salafiyya efforts to strengthen Islamic awareness and solidar 
ity in face of modernity. Thus, da'wa increasingly was under- 
stood in terms of edification and, most prominently, education, 

The disruptive period of Islamic reformism around the 
turn of the nineteenth century also saw the birth of the 
Ahmadiyya, founded in 1889 in India by Mirza Ghulam 
Ahmad (d. 1908). Due to its deviant doctrines (such as the 
claims of Ahmad to have received new revelations from God 
and to be, among other things, an incarnation of Krishna), 
most Muslims do not accept Ahmadiyya as a part of Islam. 
Nonetheless, the movement has persisted as a very active 
da'wa organization, concentrating particularly on publication. 

During the twentieth century, the Salafiyya ideal of tarbiya 
made a lasting impact on the understandings of da'wa. As of 
the 1930s, however, the political as well as the educational 
and devotional aspects of da'wa were understood and used in 
partly novel ways. A preceding event of paradigmatic impor- 
tance was the abolition of the caliphate in 1924. Da'wa 
increasingly became an endeavor to reform the individual, 
rather than the public, institutions of society. Thus, society 
was to be Islamized "from below." This vision can be ascribed 
mainly to Hassan al-Banna (d. 1949) and Abu 1-A c la 3 Maududi 
(d. 1979), who were both of towering importance for the 
conception of da'wa among later generations of Islamists. 

Founder in 1928 of the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan 
alMasliiiiiii), al-Banna spoke oi' da'wa as the call to "true 
Islam." With an allegoric reference to hijra, Muhammad's 
emigration from Mecca, to Medina, al Banna urged Muslims 
to abandon the materialism and superficial pleasures of soci- 
ety. By living in accordance with Islamic rules, Muslims will 
restore an "Islamic Order" and, eventually, establish an 
Islamic state. 

Maududi was more favorable t< > direct pi ditical action and 
mobilization, Ilis organizational base, Jama'al e Island, was 
set up as a regular political party, although it has gained 
significance primarily as an informal network. Maududi agreed 

nil' li i iiii nil ii i i i ill 

However, instead of envisioning an Islamic order, he launched 
the popular concept of the "Islamic movement," al llaraha 
al Islamiyya. J lere da'wa is aimed at creating an Islamic slate 
of mind and a matrix of life rather titan an institutional order. 

i. different medio olog ol la wa u " ested by Tablighi 
Jama'al, founded Irj Man lana Muhammad Ih as in 1927. This 
movement of Sufi background turns its back on political 
activity and concentrates on the devotional life. Yet, it em- 
phasizes the cenlrality of da' wa in terms of a i 

The Sufi background is highlighted by the centrality of the 
form of prayer called dhikr (remembrance). By repeating 
prayers many times each day, an Islamization of daily life is 
envisioned. IK as himsell distinctly de\ ialed from die charac- 
ter of al-Banna and Alatidudi and did not stand out as a 
religious scholar, either as a speaker or writer. This he 
compensated by missionary zeal and novel strategies of or- 
ganization and education. In fact, the theological simplicity 
of the Tablighi's da'wa appears as a key to popular success. 
The prerequisites for acting as a Tablighi da'i are based on 
familiarity with basic Islamic doctrines and traditions, the 
practice of salat and dhikr, respect of other Muslims, and 
sincerity in actions. Da'wa is to be performed as voluntary 
preaching of the message in small groups. Instead of, for 
instance, publishing books or arranging publicly \ isible e\ ems 
and campaigns at university campuses, da'wa is performed 
from door to door. The Tablighi communities, not least 
among Muslim minorities around the world, are built on 
close, personal relations and social support. 

Some years after the Second World War, when the large- 
scale process of decolonization started, modern da'wa activi- 
ties increased in an even more rapid speed. Gradually, da'wa 
developed into a key concept for cultural identity and politi- 
cal change. Jamal 'Abd al-Nasser, who ruled Egypt between 
1952 and 1970, built up a da'wa network in the Middle East 
audi Africa. He championed the cause oflslamic socialism and 
pan-Arabism, which influenced nationalist leaders in many 
predominantly Muslim countries, such as Algeria, Syria, 

Other Muslim leaders challenged the socialist, nationalist, 
and secularist aspects of postcolonial development and took 
recourse to a more classic understanding of da'wa. Most 
notably, Saudi Arabia's King Faysal challenged, and eventu- 
ally took over, Nasser's leading role, by stressing the ideal of a 
transnational. Muslim solidarity based on Islam, not Arabism. 
In 1962, Saudi Arabia founded the Altislim World League, 
Rabitat al 'alam al Island, for promoting international da'wa 
efforts. This was one year after the establishment of an 
Islamic university in Medina for the training of da'wa work- 
ers. The activities of the Muslim World League increased in 
the 1970s when several councils, such as the World Council 
of Mosques, were formed. The idea of promoting interna- 
tional Islamic cooperation through the Council of Mosques 
was partly inspired by the previous establishment of the 
World Council of Churches. The Muslim World League 
cooperated with the governments of certain countries, such 
as Egypt, after Nasser had been followed by Anwar Sadat. As 
a result, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth was founded 
in 1972. Due to the the oil boom of the 1970s, enormous oil 
revenues allowed countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to 
lend most substantial support to the Islamic movement that 
worked for the (re)establishment ol "'true'" islam. Funds were 
used for, among other things, Islamic research projects, 

chanties, distribution (.('.Islamic literature, international con 
ferences, and festivals, not least in Europe. Notably, this 
support predominantly favored Islamist oriented n 
such as the Deobandi inspired communities of Britain. 

Previously, Muslims had been largely opposed to relief- 
work and social-welfare concerns as part of da'wa endeavors, 
criticizing ( christian missions for using such efforts in order 
to make proselytes. Increasingly, however, charity directed 
primarily to Muslims has become an integral part of much 
da'wa work. It may even be argued that the provision of social 
le of the main aspects of Islamism. 

) the Saudi influence on organizations like 
the Muslim World League, new da'wa instruments were 
formed in other countries. In Libya, for instance. Mu'ammar 
al-Qadhdhafi established the Islamic Call Society, Jam'iyat 
al-Da'wah al-Islamiyya, in 1972, concentrating on da'wa 
efforts in sub-Saharan Africa. A decisive blow on Saudi 
Arabian hegemony was the Iranian revolution of 1979. The 
da'wa efforts of the Iranian Islamic Information Organization 
once again highlighted the question of political legitimacy. 
During the war against Iraq in the 1980s, Iran increasingly 
emphasized its Shi'ile foundation, thus loosening the slack on 
Saudi Arabia. The tensions between Saudi Arabia and the 
increasingly independent da'wa organizations have increased 
since the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s, when Saudi 
Arabia supported the military coalition led by the United 
Stales. Saudi Arabia was heavily criticized by Altislim organi 
zations all over the world, and some lost the Saudi support of 

In the late twentieth century, new da'wa organizations 
cropped up all over the Altislim world, including in Europe 
and North America. Moreover, many governments set up 
da'wa departments for education and propaganda, particu- 
larlyin the universities In Pakistan, lor example, the L'niver 
sity of Islamabad in 1985 created a Da'wah Academy for 
training da' wa workers, producing and distributing literature 
in several languages as well as organizing conferences, special 
courses, and other events. The academy has an extensive 
international network of cooperating da'wa organizations, 
including the Muslim World League. Another important 
da'wa organization, whose primary objective is to propagate 
Islam through missionary activities, is the Islamic Propaga- 
tion Centre International (IPO), which was started in 1982 
by Ahmed Deedat in Durban. It was preceded by the Islamic 
Propagation Centre, founded in 1957. Particularly signifi- 
cant in Europe and North America, the IPCI has concen- 
trated on polemi i linst Christianity. The increasing interest 
in social welfare as a part of da'wa work was reflected, for 
instance, in the formation in 1988 by the Muslim World 
League of the World Muslim Committee for Da'wah and 
Relief. Education and health care is on the program of many 
da'wa organizations, like the Indonesian Diwan Dawat al- 
Islam and the West African Ansar al Islam. 

Among Muslim intellectuals, not least in Europe and 
orlh America, da i si nifi ml It it ha In en o i 

ated with interfaith dialogue. Thus, Qur'anic injunctions 
such as "Invite a 11 to the Wayofth) Lord" (16: 125) have been 
reinterpretetl in an ecumenical sense. Proponents of inter- 
faith dialogue such as Mahmoud Ayoub, Hasan 'Askari, 
Khnrshid Ahmad, Mohammad Talbi, Isma'il al Faruqi, and 
Sewed Hossein Nasr agree on the need for ijtihad and the 
contextualizalion nishari'a, and ihey have excluded proselyt 
ism from the conceptions of da c wa. 

However, the visions of al-Banna and Maududi are con- 
tinuously present, especially in European and North Ameri- 
ca n organizations. Two examples are the International Institute 
of Islamic Thought (HIT) in the United Stales, founded In 
al-Faruqi, and the Islamic Foundation in United Kingdom, 
;\i\ offshoot of the jama'at e Island, headed ioi mam years by 
Maududi s disciple, Khurram Murad. The conception of 
da'wa among such organizations combines ecumenical efforts 
u ith insistence on edification and mobilization among Mus 
inns, predominanlly In book publishing ami, increasingh , by 
engagement in the political and educational systems of the 
Western si 

of Islamic Revival. London: Zed 

See also Conversion; Expansion; Jama'at-e Islami; 
Shari c a. 


Arnold, The >n i > V '' Pre, , f lsLi III > 

Propagation of 'the Muslim Faith. 3d ed. London: Luzac, 1935. 
Baldick, Julian. Mystical Islam: An Introduction to Sufism. 

London: Tauris, 2000. 
Canard, Marius. "DaSva." In Vol. - Encyclopedia f Isi 

Leiden: Brill, 1965. 
I ii i eln hi 1 » ilt Mil Pi - itori ) irne 1/ , Politk 1 i ini 

ton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996. 
Faruqi, Ismail R al-. "On the Nature oi Islamic Da'wah." In 

Islam and Other Faiths. Leicester: The Islamic Founda- 
tion, 1998. 
Halm, Heinz. Shi'ism. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University 

Press, 1991. 
Janson, Torsten. "D.i t i I 1 mil L olog; in Discourse 

and History." Swedish Missiological Themes 89, no. 3 

(2001): 355-415. 
Kose, Ali. Conversion to islam: . I Study of Native British (Jon 

verts. Padstow: Kegan Paul International, 1996. 
Otayek, Rene, ed L< / / / i Sahai 

Da'wa, arabisation et critiques de ('Occident. Paris: 

Karthala, 1993. 
Popovic, Alexandre, and Veinstein, Gilles, eds. Les votes 

d Allah: Les ordres mystiques dans i'islam des origines a 

auiourl'hui Paris: Fayard, 1996. 
Poston, Lam . Islamic Da'wah in the I! 'est: Muslim Missionary 

Activity and the Dynamics of Conversion to Islam. Oxford: 

Oxford University Press, 1992. 

Rahnema, Ali, ed. Pionee: 

Books, 1994. 
Schimmel, Annemarie, Sufismus: Fine Einfuhrung in die 

islamische Mystik. Munich: Beck, 2000. 
Sharon, Moshe. Black Banners from the East. Jerusalem: 

Magners, 1983 
iddii] i x till h ' I ' ! Tweu 

Century. London: Macmillan, 1997. 

Christer Hedin 

Forstcn Janson 
David Westerlund 


The Arabic word dawla is derived from the root D-W-L, 
meaning "to turn, alternate, or come around in a cyclical 
fashion." The Qur'an (59:7), for example, speaks of the 
Prophet's distribution of the spoils of war to those in need, 
"so that it ma}- not [merely] make thecircuil (dulatan) among 
the wealthy of you." Another Qur'anic reference (3:140) 
speaks of the cyclical nature of human vicissitudes, so that 
triumph one day is replaced by defeat another day. This sense 
of alternating periods of fortune and misfortune led Arab 
writers to use the word dawla when speaking of dynastic 
succession, particularly in the period after the rise of Ahbasid 
power. The Abbasid "turn" in power had come, just as earlier 
the Umayyads had had their turn before being overthrown. 

As the Abbasid house became entrenched in power, how- 
ever, the dynastic sense of dawla became conflated with 
notions of the empire or state that this family ruled. Pre- 
modern Muslim writers, like their Western contemporaries, 
did not generally speak in the abstract of the state apart from 
those who actually wielded power at any given time. For 
example, Ibn Khaldun's use of dawla signifies, as Franz 
Rosenthal notes, that "a state exists onh insofar as it is held 
together and ruled by individuals and the group which they 
constitute, that is, the dynasty. When the dynasty disappears, 
the state, being identical with it, also comes to an end." (Ibn 
Khaldun, Muqaddimah). 

With the advent of Turkish and Kurdish governors under 
the nominal authority of the later Abbasid caliphs, titles 
composed of the word al dawla combined with an honorific 
adjective became commonplace. Such titles as nasir al-dawla 
or sayf al-dawla could be rendered equally as "helper" and 
"sword," respectively, of the state, the body politic, the 
government, or the dynasty, all of which were identified 
(albeit theoretically) as a common entity. 

In the nineteenth century, as Western distinctions be- 
tween the state and the government began to filter into 
Muslim countries, dawla became increasingly disentangled 
from its more personalistic connotations and began to be 

used almost exclusively in the sense of "state." Thus, the 
1861 Tunisian constitution, the first promulgated in a Mus- 
lim country, was known as qam i J ramed under 
European pressure, the constitution consciously sought to 
differentiate the traditional powers of the bey, the ruler of 
Tunisia, from the new constitutional regime of the state 
under which even the bey was theoretically subordinate. To 
differentiate it from the state, which was relatively unchang- 
ing, the idea of the government and its personnel, which came 
and went, was connoted now by the term hut a nm. . 

Dawla in contemporary Arabic (devlet in Turkish) is used 
in the sense of the nation stale, and encompasses the full 
range of meanings associated with that term in English, 
including a community i >f citizens residing within a given set 
of territorial boundaries as well as the political authority 
under which they live. The League of Arab States is thus 
rendered as / ' D < ' ' I • a (dinval being the 

plural of dawla) and anything "international" is rendered as 
dawli or duwali. 

One also finds in contemporary Islamist writings the 
neologism da\ > hi miyy o 1 lamic state." This concept is 
invariably not well defined, but it reflects the holistic ap- 
proach to religion and state that is at the core of the funda- 
mentalist project. The Islamic state, unlike secular national 
states, is one in u Inch shan 'a. or divine lav. , is fiilh applied as 
the only legal code in the state. Beyond this general aspira 
tion, the specifics of what constitutes shari'a, how shari'a 
principles are to be discerned or interpreted, and how non- 
Muslims are to be accommodated within the Islamic stale are 
all highly contested issues. 

See also Hukuma al-islamiyya, al- (Islamic Govern- 
ment); Ibn Khaldun; Political Organization; Shari'a. 


Vyalon. Ami. I / < l Middle I 

The Evolution of Mod I Pol I Discourse. New 

York: Oxford University Press, 1987. 
Enayal, Ilamid. Modern Islamic Political Thought. Austin: 

University of Texas Press, 1982. 
Il)ii ) hald in. Muqadc V ranslated by Fran !'■ t nth il 

Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967. 
Lewis, Bernard. The 1 < , ' L, > > e of I law. Chicago: 

University of Chicago Press, 1988. 

Sohail H. Hashmi 

n of Muslim thought 
iety of ritual practices connected to the 
dying process, burial, and mourning. The most widely held 

view is that death is the fate prescribed bj ( Jod for all living 
tilings, audi thai the event itself marks a transition or journey 
of the soul from worldly existence in the body to bodily 
resurrection and immortal life in either paradise (janna) or 
hell (/////-and jahaniii mi). \\\ Islamic eschatology, as in rabbinic 
Judaism, God delegated the power of death to an angel of 
appearance who separates the soul from the body. 

Death fmaut) is a dominant theme in the QuFan, where it 
is closely linked with the understanding of life (hayd) and 
belief in God. Thus, "God has possession of the heavens and 
the earth, he gives life and death" (9:116). Death is an 
eventuality that all living souls shall "taste" (3:185, 21:35), 
and precipitates their inevitable return to God (10:56). The 
Qur'an even speaks of human existence as being defined by 
two deaths and two births: nonexistence and entry into 
worldly life, then death and resurrection in the hereafter 
(2:28, 22:66). The return to God leads to the final reckoning 
and immortality for the blessed in paradise and for the 
damned in hell. Moreover, a special reward is promised those 
killed on God's "path," who are also said to be alive with God, 
not dead (3:157, 3:169, 22:58). In Qur'anic narratives of 
sacred history, death is depicted as affliction suffered by 
prophets at the hands of unbelievers (2:61, 3:21), and as a 
punishment meted out by God to unbelievers (25:35-40). 
Ethical and juridical passages place a high value on human life 
(4:29, 5:32, 6:151, 17:31), but call for death as a punishment 
for those who war against God and Muhammad (5:33). The 
schools of Muslim jurisprudence later delineated with more 
precision the kinds of offenses that required capital punish- 
ment, as well as mitigating factors (hudtid). 

Burial and mourning are rites of passage that are codified 
in fuih literature. They involve declaration of the shahadu by 
or on behalf of the dying person, and a cleansing of the body 
(ghusl), followed by enshrouding. Within a few hours of the 
death, a party of men transport the body to the cemetery, 
where it is buried lacing toward Mecca. Funerary prayers lrtav 
be performed at the grave site itself, oral a mosque on the way 
to the cemetery. Jurists prohibit women from participating in 
funerals, even if the deceased is female. Burial at sea is 
permitted if landfall is not possible. If the body of the 
deceased is not recoverable, funerary prayers are still re- 
quired. Martyrs' bodies remain unwashed and are interred in 
their bloodstained garments without prescribed prayers, re- 
flecting conditions of combat and a beliel that they will 
immediately gain paradise. In all cases, the bereaved are 
urged to mourn in dignity for up to three days only, for 
excessive grieving is an affront to God, the giver of life and 
death. Grieving ma\ also enhance the suffering of the soul of 
the deceased. Nonetheless, participation in funerals and vis- 
iting cemeteries are endorsed as occasions for cultivating 
piety and remembering the fate awaiting all a 

Ulema and indigenous cultural traditions in the Middle 
East, Asia, Africa, and recently Europe and the Americas have 

shaped Muslim beliefs and practices pertaining- to death and 
immortality . A rich and diverse body of eschalological litem 
ture developed in medieval Islam that included narratives 
about the exemplary dentils of prophets and saints, visionary 
accounts of the torments of the grave, the death angels, and 
the intermediate condition of the soul between death and 
resurrection (barzakh), as well as detailed descriptions of the 
pleasures of paradise and punishments of hell. The major 
kiihun schools defended Islamic doctrines about resurrection 
and final judgment against the influence of various Christian, 
Jewish, sectarian, mystical, and philosophical teachings. The 
deaths of the imam:;, particularly 1 Itisayn, came to hold a 
dominant place in Twelver Shi'ite doctrine and ritual prac- 
tice. Sufis taught that death obliges seekers to engage in 
greater self scrutiny, as the qualities of life alter death reflect 
those of their worldly existence. Other mystics understood 
I in d i ,iiiii,i tlit |iii 'i | non from God 
the Beloved and as metaphors for ecstatic annihilation (fiua') 
of the self in him, as exempli lied by al Ilallaj (d. 922). To 
achieve "death before dying," was to attain spiritual union 
with the divine. A few mystics and philosophers, contrary to 
orthodox belief advocated belief in metempsychosis {tanasukh) 
and denied the reality of personal death, resurrection, judg- 
ment, and heaven and hell. 

In many Muslim communities, death has been seen as a 
contagious threat to domestic prosperity caused by the evil 
eye and malevolent spirits rather than a direct result of God's 
will. Mourning practices vary widely, but they routinely 
entail expressions of profound grief, especially by women, 
and include prayer gatherings and meals for up to a year after 
the loss of a loved one. Moreover, most Muslims recount 
visions of the dead in their dreams audi lieliet e that the saintly 
dead, especially the prophet Muhammad and his descen- 
dants, have the power to intercede on their behalf both in this 
world and in the hereafter. Saints' tombs, found in most 
Muslim communities, have consequently evolved into im- 
portant pilgrimage and cultural centers. Since the nineteenth 
century, some Muslim writers have adapted European 
spiritualism to traditional Islamic understandings of death 
and the afterlife, while Islamists have revived discourses 
about the tortures of the grave, the corporal punishments of 
hell, and the bodily pleasures of paradise to advance their 
radical political and moral agendas. 

See also c Ibadat; Jahannam; Janna; Pilgrimage: Ziyara. 


Carnpo, Juan Eduardo. The Other Sides of Paradise: Explore/ 
tions into the Religious Meanings of Domestic Space in Islam. 
Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1991. 
Ii i ill VI ii I 1 mill il 1 ' ,"i i Death ana 

Afterlife (Kitab dhikr al-mawt wa-ma ba'dahu): Book XL of 
the Revival of tht Rt iences (Ihya 5 c ulum al-din). 

Translated by T. J. Winter. Cambridge: Islamic Texts 
Society, 1995. 

O'Shaughnessy, Thomas. Muhammad's Thoughts on Death. 
Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1969. 

Smith, Jane Idleman, and Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck. The 
Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection. Albany: 
State University of New York Press, 1981. 

Juan Eduardo Cinnpo 


Deoband, a country town ninety miles northeast of Delhi, has 
given its name to ulema associated with the Indo-Pakistani 
reformist movement centered in the seminary founded there 

in 1867. A striking dimension of Islamic religious life in 
colonial India was tire emergence of several apolitical, inward- 
looking movements, among them not only the Deoband is but 
the so-called "Barelwis," the much smaller Ahl-e Hadis/Ahl i 
Hadith, and the controversial Ahmadiyya. The Deobandi, 
Barehvi, and Ahl e I lad is idem a not only responded to Hindu 
and Christian proselytizing, but engaged in public debate, 
polemical writings, and exchanges of fatawa among them- 
selves. Each fostered devotion to the prophet Muhammad as 
well as fidelity to his practice; each thought itself the correct 
interpreter of hadith, the guide to that practice. All depended 
on means of communication, above all print, as well as on 
institutional changes that came with British colonial rule. 

The Daral-'Ulum at Deoband utilized the organizational 
model of British colonial schools. Its goal was to hold Mus- 
lims to a standard of correct individual practice in a time of 

considerable social change, and, to that end, to create a class 
of formally trained and popular!} supported ulema to serve as 
imams, guardians, and trustees of mosques and tombs, preach- 
ers, muftis, spiritual guides, writers, and publishers of relig- 
ious works. At the end of its first centenary in 1967, Deoband 
counted almost ten thousand graduates, including several 
hundred from foreign countries. Hundreds of Deobandi 
schools, moreover, have been founded across the Indian 
subcontinent and now in the West as well. 

The Deobandis followed Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi 
(1702-1763) in their shift from emphasis on the "rational 
sciences" to an emphasis on the "revealed sciences" of the 
Qur'an and, above all, hadith. Unlike him, however, they 
have been staunch Hanaiis in jurisprudence. They have also 
been Sufi guides, bound together by shared spiritual net- 
works, especially Chishti Sabiri. Among the most influential 
writers was Maulana Ashraf <Ali Thanawi (1864-1943), who 
published scholarly works on Qur'an, hadith, and Sufism. He 
also wrote an eno clopedic guide lor Muslim women, Bihishti 
Zeivar, disseminating correct practice, reform of custom, and 
practical knowledge. 

After about 1910, individual Deobandis began to be in- 
volved in politics in opposition to British rule in India and 

also to British intervention in the Ottoman lands. Many 
Deobandis supported the Ivhilafat movement after World 
War I in support of the Ottoman ruler as khalifa of all 
Muslims, and were also strong supporters of the Jam'iyat 
c Ulama-e Hind who was allied with the Indian National 
Congress and opposed to the creation of Pakistan. The 
apolitical strand v, ithin the school's teaching has taken shape 
for mam in the widespread, now transnational, pietist move 
mentknown since the 1920s as Tablighijama'at. The popu- 
lar writings of Matilana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalavi 
(1897-1982), associated with the second major Deobandi 
school in India, the Mazahir-e 'Ulum in Saharanpur, are 
utilized extensive!} in the movement. In Pakistan, the Jam'iyat 
'Ulama-e Islam part) represents Deobandi tilema. In striking 
contrast, the Taliban movement, which emerged in Afghani- 
stan in the 1990s, had its origins among refugees in Deobandi 
schools in Pakistan and also identifies itself as Deobandi. 

See also Education; Jam'iyat TJIama-e Islam; Law; South 
Asia, Islam in; Tablighi Jama'at. 


l-l i If, Barbara Dal 1st ' real in British bid Dan I 

1860-1900. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University 
Press, 1982. 
Thanawi, Mini n Vshral li. A < ll'i i: Man/ i 

Asbraf'Ali Thanarsi's Bihiskti Zcrsar Berkeley: University 
of California Press, 1990. 

Barbara D. Metcalf 


The meaning and analytical value of the phrase "devotional 
life" needs clarification in the case of Islam. "Devotional" is 
derived from the Latin term devotio, which \\ as original!) the 
name of a ritual in Roman religion, and became predomi- 
nantly a Christian term, which in the Middle Ages and in 
modern speech means the obedient submission to God. The 
theologian John Renard defines de\ otion as "the elements of 
personal investment" — energy, feeling, time, substance — 
that characterize a Muslim communal and individual re- 
sponse to the experience of God's ways of dealing with them. 
Ill Island Vrabic term closest lode m ma li kh/as (cf. S. 
4:146, peakin I) ml those who I t 

that is, are sincere in their obedience to God), but this term is 
not used in religious studies in the same way as it is used in 
Constance Padwick's classic Muslim Derations Even though 
the devotional practices as described below include the "ca- 
nonical" ritual ' ib da i i ell oni is umi I hat in quantita- 
tive terms a great part of devotional life taker, place outside 
the prescribed rituals even though it remains closely con- 
nected and intertwined with them. As in other religious 
traditions, many aspects of devotional life seem to fulfill a 

need for the "sacramental" aspect: to touch or be near and 
close to the object of veneration, believed to have healing or 
intercessional powers. 

The term devotion can therefore only be used for the 
widest variety of forms of engaged, affectionate worship: 
from the 'ibadat to the veneration of the prophet Muhammad 
(for example, in the celebration of his birthday. Ar. mawlid). 
saints (awliya'), or intermediary beings such as the jinn and 
zar spirits, taking place within a wide variety of institutional 
settings, and under the guidance of a particular leadership. 
Hence, devotional life refers here in the first place to a broad 
range of personal, popular behaviors and beliefs that stand in 
a dialectical relationship with scriptural orthodoxies of vari- 
ous kinds and varieties. The reasons for this tension may vary: 
Many practices are without precedent in the time of the 
Prophet (bida's), and there may be forms of reprehensible 
moral behavior such as joint gatherings of men and women, 
and particular forms of trance. However, it is the alleged 
veneration of mortal and created human beings instead of 
God, the Creator, which is condemned as shirk. 

Devotional life in Islam has yet to be mapped and its 
history is still to be written. So far, most studies have iodised 
on written sou i. ( uch as Path id Muslim D < m Vyoub 
' / in 1! h I i h I 1 II 

and manuscripts (amulets) that can be purchased in small 
bookshops, in the streets, and at religious institutions. Among 
them are many prayer manuals and, devotional texts, often 
originating in the ritual practices of one of the mystical 
traditions, the subject of Padwick's classic study. The pam- 
phlets may be written by classical authors, most often mystics, 
such as the famous 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (d. 1 166), but there 
are also many modern authors. 

Devotion to the Prophet is a dominant element in many 
Sufi movements. A very popular text is the D lal myra 
(Guide to happiness) by the Moroccan mystic al-Jazuli (d. 
1465). In it, the 201 names of the Prophet occupy an impor- 
tant place, as well as the tasliya, or prayer on the Prophet, 
which reads in translation: "O God, send your blessing [salli j 
on our Lord Muhammad and on the family of our Lord 
Muhammad and greet them with peace!" The family of the 
Prophet is sometimes taken very broadly and may include all 
people of belief. In Shi'ite books it also includes all the Alids. 

in popular pamphlets older texts such as the Qasidat al- 
burda In al Busiri maj be found together with modern texts, 
forming handbooks of devotion for indh idual and communal 
life, Padv ick lists different tj pes of ritual forms in addition to 
the term salat, which may indicate the obligatory salat, the 
voluntary (nafila) salats, and salats for special occasions, as 
well as the prayer on the Prophet. These incl le hi i 

refers to the outward aspects, and wazifa or ratib, the daily 
individual devotional office. In addition to forms Padwick 
s different types of texts: mnnajat, or conversations 
l God and Prophets or oilier sainth persons; d/i'a. a 

i Istanbul calls faithful Muslims to pray in an 
mportant Islamic daily ritual. Written instruction on Islamic devo- 
ion is available in prayer manuals and devotional texts in bookstores 
and on the street in the Muslim world. © David Rubincer/Corbis 

very important term indicating invocations and prayers that 
can also be said during the saint, particularly the sujud; or 
prosternation. In this regard, it is important to observe that 
whereas it is obligatory to recite the Qur'an (undoubtedly the 
most important devotional text) during the salat in Arabic, 
du'as can also be said in the vernacular. There is a connection 
between prayers in the vernacular and the emergence of 
popular literature in such Islamic vernaculars as Persian, 
I i I i li nd i liei I hi i Dkil In j i lib mi in remem 

brance," nameh of Cod and the ninety nine- beautiful names 
(memorization of which, tradition holds, almost assures a 
person entrance into Paradise), and may refer both to a type 
of text (especially in the plural, adhkar) and the ritual of 
reciting them. A wird is a litany often accompanied by a name 
and associated with the devotional life of a particular Sufi 
order. Other texts are referred to as hizb, litany, a term which 
also refers to an allotted part, namely of the Qur'an, or of a 
text such as the Dala'il (divided into eight ahzab). Al-Shadili 
(d. 1258) com no ed the famous / i >ah board vessel 
on his way to Mecca. Ahzab have a strong connotation of 
offering protection against hostile natural or human forces. 
The same holds true for the Hirz, which literally means 
"stronghold." All such types of texts are recited at different 
ritual occasions. In addition, many popular pamphlets deal 
with other devotional subjects such as magic (Ar. sihr), evil 
powers, for example, those of the jinn and the evil eye (al- 
hasad, al-'ayn) and how to avert or control them, and with the 
afterlife and eschatological subjects (for example, "life"' in the 

grave). Devotional life should also be approached through 
music and literary works of prose and poetn . For example, in 
his amobioi 1 iphii il work Ein Lcl • Islam (A Life 

with Islam; 1999), Nasr Abu Zaid reminds us that recitation 
of the Qur'an had spiritual as well as aesthetic and physical 
aspects. Another interesting autobiography, and an impor- 
tant source for devotional life of a woman in the Islamist 
movement, is that of Zaynab al Chazali. 

Studies into devotional life based on field work exist, but 
do not abound and is only rarely the subject of a monograph. 
One may think of the accounts by L<k\ aid Lane {Mannersand 

' i he Mud Epyp 1846), Snouck I Inn ronj ol 

In in li I, Edward Weslermard / 

Morocco, Usha Sanyal on Barelwi devotions (although it fo- 
cuses on fatwas rather than on field work), Abdul Hamid El 
Zein's study of saint veneration in Lamu, John Bowen's 
Muslims Through Discourse (a study in the ( layo highland), or 
Ian Netton's book on Sufi ritual in the United Kingdom. 

Images, pictures, and paintings form an important source 
for the study ol devotional life. In this respect, a promising 
new contribution can also be expected of visual anthri >pologj 
(e.g., films such as those by Fadwa El Guindi, El Sebou', on 
life-cycle rituals in Egypt). Finally, the Internet, in particular 
the World Wide Web, has emerged as a medium for the 
spread ol dev otional life. Quite a few Sufi orders are active in 
cyberspace, and noteworthy developments take place there 
with regard to publications as well. A great lacuna remains, 
however, the lack of empirical analysis on a micro level in 
which textual (and music< (logical eeoA iconographical) study is 
combined with (participant) observation. 

See also Adhan; Dhikhj; Du'a; Ibadat; Tasawwuf. 


Ayoub, Mahmoud. Reck / / in Islam I Study of 

the Devotional Aspects in Tic eh •■, r Sbiism. The Hague: Mou- 

ton, 1978. 
Biegman, N. H., and Hunt, S. V. Egypt. Moulids, Saints and 

Sufis. The Hague: Gary Schwartz/SDU, 1990. 
Bowenjohi R. M/isl I D 

in Gayo Society. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University 

Press, 1993. 
Kriss, Rudolf von, and Kris lleinrich. Hubert. ! 'olksglaube irn 

Bcreich des Islam. Wiesbaden: (). Ilarrassowitz, 1960-62. 
Xetlon, Ian Richard. Sufi ntnai The Parallel L'uieerse. Rich 

mond, U.K.: Curzon Press, 2000. 
! ulu i ' onstan U ish > T i 1 ' Pru\t 

Manuals in Common Use (1961). Reprint. Oxford, U.K.: 

Oneworld, 1996. 
Parker, A, and Neal, A. Hajj Painting. Folk Art of the Great 

Pilgrimage. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution 

Press, 1995. 

In Bandar Seri Begav 

a young boy 

'AN Saifuddin Mosquf 

i i 1 i )hn Doors to I i 

ious Life of Muslims. Berkeley: University of California 

Press, 1996. 
Sanyal, Ush \. D I i I i It 

Ahmad Riza Khan Barelwi and his Movement, 1870-1920. 

Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999. 
Schiramel. Aimemarie. And Muhammad Is I lis Messenger: The 

Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety. Chapel Hill: 

University of North Carolina Press, 1985. 
i nube I 1 1 nui lames. Ri I i i 

rary Islam. Shii Devotional Rituals in Snath . Is/a. Columbia: 

University of Si hi ill Carolina Press, 1993. 
\\ terrnarcl Ed n 1 ' , u I Mora > (1926). 

Reprint. London: Macmillan, 1960. 
Zein, Abdul Hamid el-. The Sacred Meadows. A Structural 

Analysis of Religions Symbolism in an East African Town. 

Evanston, 111.: Northwestern University, 1974. 

Gerard Wiegers 

Dhikr is a complex word various!;, translated as "remem- 
brance" or "recollection." The word dhikr was developed 
initially in the Qur'an to reflect a special kind of piety toward 

God, then extended in the hadith to reflect the multiplicity of 
ideas associated with the Prophet's own pious practices, and 

ultimately adapted by the ascetic and mystic traditions as an 
institutional meditational ritual. 

The word dhikr and its cognates form a de 
the Qur'an, which insists that the prophets were all linked 
together by virtue of the message lhe\ collectively brought: 
They were all members of one brotherhood (23:51-52) and 
all brought the same din (religion). The Qur'an identifies 
them all as mudhakkirat, a word derived from the root "to 
remember" or "to recollect"; thus, they are all rememberers. 

Their message i \hkira remindei Humans, however, are 

in a state of forgetfulness, and they need to be reminded by 
believers; it is the believer's chore to constantly witness 
(dhakir), both because of the human propensity to forgetful 
ness, but also because God has allowed Satan to entice 
humans away (17:62-64). 

The remembrance of Allah as a rite has a special place in 
Islam. The Qur'an says, "Those who believe, and whose 
hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah; for 
without doubt, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find 
satisfaction" (13:28). The remembrance of Allah is under- 
stood to embrace both acts of service and kindliness, and 
failure to do so curbs spiritual growth (83:9). At the same 
time, the Qur'an envisions dhikr of wider significance than 
the formal requirement of prayer, including devotions such as 

silent meditation and personal conlemplalion (24:37). Remem- 
brance is also linked directly to accepting Allah's guidance, a 
key initiative of God in human salvation, and failure to 
remember leads to the >.\ ithdrawal of ( lod's grace (72:17). In 
short, "Remembrance of Allah is die greatest thing in life, 
without doubt" (29:45). 

Dhikr in Mystical Islam or Sufism 

Sufis adhere to the Qur'an's words to "remember God" and 
they do so in rituals both rich and variegated. Some Sufis 
regard dhikr as the mystical equivalent of canonical prayer, 
and wherever dhikr as liturgical remembrance has been prac- 
ticed, it has generally been held to encompass the same pious 
goals as prayer and to reflect the same ritual effectiveness. 
The dhikr tradition, then, is a means of meditation on past 
verities and on the transcendent being of God, a base upon 
which Sufism built a structure for probing higher conscious- 
ness, engaging with spiritual forces, and ultimately coming 
into a personal encounter with God. 

Dhikr developed into a pious ritual very early in the 
growth of ascetic practices, and, with the establishment of the 
orders, became specificalh designed for brotherhood medi- 
tations. It became the means to develop internal cohesion 
within the order, and for the head of the order to maintain 
control over the adepts. Dhikr thus evolved into part of the 
discipline imposed by Suiism's institutional structure. While 
its practice was open to those "on the Way," each order 
required dhikr to be approved and carried out in the presence 
of the shaykh or the order's other officials. 

Such teachings embraced the following notions: Dhikr 
could be either silent or spoken, reflecting the domains of 
practice, that is, remembrance of the heart (dhikr khafi, or 
dhikr til t/ti/bi) or remembrance of the tongue. Spoken dhikr is 
ultimately overcome by silent dhikr, since words fail before 
the grandeur of God, or they inevitably maintain the self 
separate from the source of all life. By the sixteenth century, 
dhikr w ould encompass seven different levels of meaning, 
according to some practitioners. 

Finally, dhikr, spoken by saintly people or their repre- 
sentatives, is widely regarded as having spiritual potency, and 
the vehicle of memory suggests that dhikr 's inspiration can be 
carried beyond the atmosphere of the order into Muslim 
society itself, where it can effect change in unpredictable but 
significant ways. 

See also Devotional Life; 'Ibadat; Tasawwuf. 

■ Dervishes. London: Octagon 


Burke, Michael. Among t 

Press, 1973. 
i 'i b in l l i ' I \> ' /'it f L 

bhaij 's Kitttb Sirat RasuL Utah. Translated by A. Guillaume. 

Karachi, Pakistan, and New York: Oxford University 

Press, 2001. 

Hodgson, Marshall G. S. The Venture of Islam. Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1974. 

Hoffman, Valerie. Sufism,, Saints, and Mysticism in Modern 
Egypt. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995. 

Schirnmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel 
Hill: University of North Carolina, 1975. 

Schubel, Vernon. "The Muharram Majlis: The Role of a 
Ritual in the Preservation of Shi'a Identity." In Muslim 
Families in North . hnerica. Edited by Earle H. Waugh, 
Sharon M. Abu-Laban, and Regula B. Qureshi. Edmonton, 
Alberta, Canada: University of Alberta Press, 1991. 

Waugh, Earle I!, The Mmishidin of Egypt: Their World tin d 
Their Song. Columbia: University of South Carolina 
Press, 1989. 

Earle Waugh 


Islam's dietary law s are based on scripture, juridical opinions. 
and local custom; the latter, in turn, reflects the religious 
milieu of pre-Islamic Arabia. Foods are designated as lawful 

i/ i mil ili' I mil i pi i b i il'b (iiitikruh) en 

erally, all tilings, including ioods. remain lawful unless proven 
otherwise. The Qur'an rules that the flesh of swine is unlaw- 
ful, as is carrion, blood, animals that iia\ e been strangulated, 
beaten to death, killed In a fall, gored to death, or savaged by 
other animals. Apostolic traditions render unlawful carnivo 
rous animals, birds of prey, and most reptiles. The schools of 
law differ with regard to some foods: For the Elanafiles, 
crustaceans such as lobster, shrimp, crab, and the like are 
reprehensible, for the even reptiles are lawful, and 
for the Shafiites meal products not consumed by the early 
Arab community are unlaw iul. 

The name of God must be invoked on all animals before 
slaughter, although some jurists waive this rule where the 
slaughterer is Muslim. The trachea, and at least one carotid 
artery, must be severed with a sharp instrument to minimize 
pain and suffering. Game hunters need not follow these rules 
if the name of God was invoked when their properly trained 
hunting animals were set loose. Also lawful is an animal killed 
by weapons such as arrows, lances, and so on that when 
launched — in the name of God — tear through flesh and cause 
bleeding. Because no bleeding occurs when live ammunition 
is used, some jurists render the consumption of such animals 

Animals slaughtered by people of the book, that is, Jews 
and Christians, are lawful, although some jurists insist that 
they too invoke onlj the name of God, and not that of Jesus, 
or any other deity. More recently, and as a consequence of 
migrations to the West, a further distinction, particularly 
evident among Muslims in the United States, is made be- 
tween animals slaughtered by people of the book, termed 


halal, and those slaughtered by Muslims themselves, termed 


Intoxicants are unlawful, even in small quantities, and so 
too are profits, salaries, or rentals obtained through commer- 
cial i enlures involving intoxicants. Fresh grape and dale juice 
cannot be consumed if left overnight in summer and after 
three days in winter. By analogy, chemical substances that 
impair the senses are also unlawful. 

Meals must be consumed \\ ith the right hand, preferably 
while sitting, and God's name must be invoked before and 

i! i hi il I ing utensils of gold nil sil r is repi ehen iblt 
as is eating garlic or onion before prayer, and filling the belly 
more than two thirds with, food and drink. Some large last 
food chains now cater to Islamic dietary requirements, and 
use a crescent in some places to indicate that halal meads 
are served. 

See also Fatwa; Ijtihad; Madhhab; Mufti; Shari'a. 


(i il vlichael. ( ////and, Right ! Forbidci !) 
Islamic Thought. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cam- 
bridge University Press, 2000. 
i " ii i i \ i him f L ' d ' L'nl fal in Islam. 
Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1994. 

Muneer Goolavi Farced 


Disputation is the ritual practice of dialectical argument 
among schools of thought. In early and medieval Islamic 
societies, disputation is especially important in regard to the 
elaboration of competing religious doctrines. Two Arabic 
terms, jadal (and its more intensive form v/iijadala) and 
iiitmazara designate dialectics or disputation with an oppo- 
nent. A culture of disputation was well established in the 
Middle East prior to the rise of Islam, between and within the 
Jewish and Christian communities and among philosophical 
schools, such as the Peripatetics (Aristotelians), Stoics, 
Neoplatonists, Skeptics. Materialists, and others. Emblem 
atic of this dialectical form of scholarship in the .Middle 
Eastern environment of nascent Islam are the v, tilings of die 
Church Father, John of Damascus (d. 749). In a tractate 
''Against the Saracens," written under Umayyad Islamic rule, 
John instructs Christians in the methods and the limits of 
disputing with Muslims on matters of belief. 

Engaging the opponent through argument is also well 
attested in the Qur'an. Humans are referred 

is then 


trie yuran. .unmans are relerreil to 
i it) oi things" (18:54). The verbal noun mujadak 
ve verb form, meaning disputing u ith an enemy, 
ity-seven times, in such phrases as "the Salans 

inspire their friends to dispute with von" (6:121) and "dispute 
not with the People of the Book" (29:46). Qur'an 16:125 
associates disputing v ith proselylism or inviting unbelievers 
to become Muslim: "Invite (humankind) to the way of your 
Lord with wisdom and kind words and dispute with them 
(jadilhum) in (a manner) which is less offensive." 

By the ninth century, in Baghdad. Basra, and other centers 
of learning, disputation was recognized as a skill and an art 
that enhanced one's scholarly status. The biographical dic- 
tionaries mention accomplishment in the "science of disputa- 
tion" ('ilm al-jadat) or the rules of conduct in debate (adab al- 
jadal), alongside knowledge of law, theology, the Qur'an, 
hadith, and the grammar and lexicon of the Arabic language. 
Although the earliest manuals of instruction in the art of 
disputation no longer exist, the existence of such works as 
early as the ninth century is attested by references that appear 
in the tenth-century catalogue of Arabic works by Ibn al- 
Nadim (Kitab al-fihrist). 

Arabic theological texts from the ninth to eleventh centu- 
ries give evidence of the oral environment of debate and 
argument in which claims were made, scripture was inter- 
preted, rulings were established, and ideas were advanced and 
criticized. Typical of these texts is the following pattern. An 
incipit formulation of a problem is stated, for example, the 
Mu'tazilite theological school's claim that the Qur'an, like all 
material things in the world, is created and not eternal — a 
view that orthodox Muslims rejected. Next, the claim or 
doctrine is broken down into constituent subsections of the 
argument. Often the contending positions of other schools of 
thought are stated. The text then proceeds to advance the 
details of counterargument, followed by the teacher's reply to 
that argument. A typical text reads: "If the interlocutor (al- 
ii ii I 1 ' i u i i i i il the loll n ii nd h 
said to him. . . ." The textual forms of these disputes are in 
reality school texts that were dictated by a shaykh or teacher 
in his home, at a madrasa, or in the corner or outer halls of a 
mosque, often to quite large gatherings of students. Thatthe 
same problems were disputed over and over by succeeding 
generations of students and teachers, as was, for example, the 
claim that the Qur'an was created, or that the Qur'an was a 
miracle that proved Muhammad's prophethood, indicates a 
dynamic conception of religious truth that always had to be 
tested and defended with strengthened arguments. 

This very method of teaching invited disputes in the 
lecture halls, and both teachers and pupils often became 
practitioners. At the simplest level, students would often be 
given a problem to dispute in practice session. Medieval 
annalistic historians like Abu Alansur ibn Tahrir al Baghdad! 
(d. 103 7) describe how on many occasions the more advanced 
students of a shaykh would go or be sent to the sessions of a 
rival teacher to challenge the latter with counterarguments. 
Other medieval observers of this form of teaching through 
public debate commented upon how loud and o 

they would often become, even late at night, disturbing 
neighbors who were trying to sleep. The theologians Abu 
'Uthman 'Amr ibn al-Jahiz (d. 869) and Abu Hamid al- 
Ghazali (d. 1 111) argued that common people who were not 
trained in the rules and discipline of disputation should not be 
allowed to debate religion and theology in public, because 
their lack of knowledge and skill often letl to public disorder 

The advanced cultural context for highly developed 
disputational skills were the evenings sponsored by local 
rulers and other patrons, in many cases bringing together 
Sunni and Shi'ite religious spokesmen as well as representa- 
tives of the Orthodox, Nestorian, and Monoiphysite Chris- 
tian communities, Rabbanite Jews, philosophers, poets, and 
other intellectuals to debate whatever important issue of the 
day interested the patron. In mam cases, religious truth was 
framed as the problem and debated across confessional lines. 
In many cases, too, disputation over religious truth was 
conducted across disciplines. In one celebrated debate in the 
year 932 in Baghdad, for instance, the grammarian Abu Sa'id 
al Sirali debated the logician Abu Bishr Malta, The logician 
held that truth is determined in formal logic, not in natural 
language (which is the medium of the Qur'an). Al-Sirafi 
successfully argued that meaning is tin bedded in the lan- 
guage of the text itself, thus preserving the importance of the 
text of scripture, which in Islamic religious thought is more 
than prepositional truth. 

Not every scholar appreciated or participated in public 
disputations, especially across confessional lines. The literary 
historian Abu 'Abdallah al-Humaydi (d. 1095) tells of a 
certain Hanbali religious scholar who reported having at- 
tended one such public disputation in eleventh-century 
Baghdad, II m] I I h 

allowed to stand up and say that Muslims would not be 
allowed to argue using their Book (the Qur'an), but rather 
that all disputants would be restricted to rational argument. 
When all present, including the other Muslims, agreed to the 
terms of the dispute, the Hanbali reported that he left and 

In modern literary and anthropological terms it is possible 
to see the phenomenon oijadal and munazara as a form of 
poetics and social ritual. Taking the form of verbal conflict, 
such practices occurred in the highly charged atmosphere of 
competing religious communities lh mg under Islamic rule in 
the central Islamic lands of the Middle East, especially during 
the Abbasid Age (750-1258). Potentially dangerous and vola- 
tile conflicts were defined and framed, then regulated and 
controlled by rules of conduct. A measure of how effective 
these cultural forms were is the fact that often those who 
refused to dispute according to the rules took their concerns 
to the streets of Baghdad in more physical and even violent 
forms of conflict. Violence, however, was often outweighed 
by the more civil forms of conflict. In no small r 

the cultural practice of agreeing to disagree in disputation 
among contending religious communities that made civil 
society possible in the Islamic Middle Ages. 

See also Christianity and Islam; Kalam. 


Alahtli, Miihsin. '"Language and Logic in Classical Islam." In 
Logic in Classical Islamic Culture, etlited by G. E. Grunebaum. 
Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1970. 

Miller, Lawrence. "The Development of Islamic Dialec- 
tics." American Research Center in Egypt Newsletter 34 
(1986): 24-27. 

Moreen, V. B. "Shfi Jewish 'Debate' (iiiuiiazara) in the 
Eighteenth Century." Journal of the American Oriental 
Society 119, no. 4 (1999): 570-89. 

Richard C. Martin 



In Islamic law, the husband has the exclusive right to talaq, 
termination of marriage. Talaq is defined as a unilateral act, 
which takes legal effect by the husband's declaration. Neither 
grounds for divorce nor the wife's presence or consent are 
necessary, but the husband must pay his wife's mahr — translated 
in English as "dower," this is the gift the bridegroom oilers 
the bride upon marriage — if he has not done so at the time of 
m in md in lin nan ifaqa) d irin the / pt i iod 

(three menses after the declaration). 

The wife, however, cannot be released from marriage 
without her husband's consent, although she can buy her 
release by offering him compensation. This is referred to as 
"divorce by mutual consent" and can take two forms: In khtil. 
the wife claims separation because of her extreme dislike 
(ikrah) of her husband, and there is no ceiling on the amount 
of compensation that she pays; in mubarat the dislike is 
mutual and the amount of compensation should not exceed 
the value of the mahr itself. 

If the wife fails to secure her husband's consent, her only 
recourse is the intervention of a judge who has the power 
either to compel the husband to pronounce talaq or to 

pronounce it on his behalf. Knov n is faskk (reci i) taj ,<, 

(separation), or tatliq (compulsory issue of divorce), this 
outlet has become the common juristic basis on which a 
woman can obtain a court divorce in contemporary Muslim 
world. The facility with which a woman can obtain such a 
divorce and the grounds on which she can do so vary in the 

different schools of Islamic law and in different c 
The Maliki school is the most liberal and "rants the widest 
grounds upon which a woman can initiate divorce proceed- 
ings. Among Muslim states where islamic law is the basis of 
family law, women in Tunisia enjoy easiest access to divorce. 

See also Gender; Law; Marriage. 


Carroll, Lucy, and Kapoor, Harsh, eds. Talaq-i-Tafwid: The 

Muslim Woman's Contractual Access to Divorce. Grabels, 
WLUML (Women Living Under Muslim Laws), 1996. 
Esposito, John L., and Delong-Bas, Natana J. Women in 
Muslim Family Law. 2d ed. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse 
University Press, 2001. 

Ziba Mir-Hosseini 


The Dome of the Rock (Ar. (Jahhat til S/ikhra), a large 
octagonal building in Jerusalem commissioned hvlhe l.'rnayvad 
caliph 'Abd al-Malik in 692 c.e., is the earliest major monu- 
ment of Islamic architecture to survive. Muslims today con- 
sider it the third holiest shrine in Islam, after the Kaaba in 
Mecca and the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina. Its age and 
its sanctity, along with its visibility and extraordinary decora- 
tion, make it a major monument of world architecture and 
one of the most important sites in Islam. 

The Dome of the Rock is set over a rocky outcrop near the 
center of the large esplanade known in Arabic as al-Haram til 
Sharif ([he Noble Sanctuary), which was once the site of the 
Jewish Temple, the traditional religious center of Jerusalem. 
The building is a large low octagon divided internally by an 
arcade into two octagonal ambulatories encircling a tall 
cylindrical space measuring approximately 20 meters (65 
feet) in diameter. A high wooden dome, whose metal roof is 
plated with gold, spans the central space and covers the rock. 

The glory of the building is its decoration. Above a high 
dado of quartered marble, the exterior and interior walls were 
once entirely covered in a mosaic of small cubes of colored 
and gold glass and semiprecious stones. In the sixteenth 
century the mosaics on the exterior were replaced with glazed 
tiles, themselves replaced in the twentieth century, but the 
mosaics on the interior stand much as they did when they 
were put up in the late seventh century. They depict a vast 
program of fantastic trees, plants, fruits, jewels, chalices, 
vases, and crowns. A long (about 250 meters, or 820 feet) 
band of Arabic writing in gold on a blue ground runs along 
the top of both sides of the inner octagon. The text is largely 
Qur'anic phrases and contains the earliest evidence for the 

Dome of the Rock 

n Dome of the Rock diagrai 

writing down of the Qur'an. It ended with the name of the 
patron, the Untayyad caliph Al»d al Malik (replaced in the 
ninth century hv thai of the Ahbasid caliph al Ma'mun), and 
the dat 

In form, materials, and dec< nation, the Dome of the Rock 
belongs to the tradition of late Antique and Byzantine archi- 
tecture that flourished in the region before the coming of 
Islam. The domed, centrally planned building was a typical 
form for a martyrium, and the Dome of the Rock is similar in 
plan and size of dome to the nearby Holy Sepulcher, the 
building (also raised over a rock) that the emperor Constan- 
tine had erected in the fourth century to mark the site of 
Christ's burial on Golgotha. Other Christian buildings erected 
in the area in the eighth century, notably the Church of the 
Nativity in Bethelem, show a similar use of marble and 
, perhaps executed by the same team of m 

Despite its antecedents and even its workmen, the Dome 
of the Rock is clearly a Muslim building, commissioned by a 
Muslim patron for Muslim purposes. Its mosaic decoration, 
notably its inscriptions in Arabic and its lack of figural 
representation, immediately distinguishes it from contempo- 
rary Christian buildings in the area. It was not intended as a 
place for communal pra\ er; that function was fulfilled by the 

Women praying in front of the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest shrine in Islam. The Dome of the Rock was built on the site where the Jewish 
Temple, Jerusalem's traditional lewish center, stood before it was destroyed. Although it was built for Muslims, the decoration and architecture 
of the Dome of the Rock reflect Antique and Byzantine traditions that predate the arrival of Islam. AP/Wide World Photos 

nearby Aqsa Mosque. Rather its domed octagonal form 

suggests a commemorative function, though its exact purpose 
is unclear. 

Already in the ninth century several alternative explana- 
tions for its construction were proposed. One author sug- 
gested thai c Abd al Malikhad commissioned the Dome of the 
Rock to replace the Ka'ba, which had fallen into enemy 
hands. This explanation, however, is simplistic and under- 
mines one of the five central tenets of Islam, though the 
building could have functioned (and dues today) as a second 
ary site of pilgrimage. Another explanation, also current from 
the ninth century, associates the building with the site of 

Luhanii i / n culons night j i roi I 

to Jerusalem and back. However, the Quranic inscriptions 
around the interior of the Dome of the Rock, the only 
contemporary source for explaining the building's purpose, 
mention neither of these subjects. Rather, they deal with the 
nature of Islam and refute the tenets of Christianity. The 
inscriptions suggest that the building was intended to adver- 
tise the presence of Islam. Together with the traditional 
identification of the rock as the place of Adam's burial and 
Abraham's intended sacrifice of his son and of the esplanade 

as the site of Solomon's Temple, the inscriptions suggest that 
the Dome of the Rock was meant to symbolize Islam as the 
worthy successor to both Judaism and Christianity. 

The Dome of the Rock continued to play an important 
role long after it was built. The Abbasids, who succeeded the 
I may} ads, restored it several times, and the Fatimids re- 
stored it in the eleventh century after the dome collapsed in 
the earthquake of 1016. The Crusaders considered it Solo- 
mon'sTemple itself and rechristened the building Templum 
Domini Saladin, the Ayyubid prince who recaptured Jerusa 
lem for the Muslims in 1187, had the building rededicated as 
part of his campaign to enhance the city's sanctity and 
political importance. The Mamluks, rulers of Egypt and Syria 
from 1250 to 1517, had the wooden ceilings of the arnbula 
tory and the central dome restored. The Ottoman sultan 
S a ley man (r. 1520 J 566). whose name is the Turkish form of 
Solomon, ordered the building redecorated as part of his 
program of embellishing the holy cities of Islam. It was 
restored six more times in the twentieth century and has 
become a popular icon of Islam, decorating watches and tea 
towels and replicated in miniature models made of mother- 
of-pearl and plastic. The first great monument of Islamic 


See also Architecture; Holy Cities. 

has taken on a new life as the symbol of 
Israeli occupation. 


Creswell, K. A. C. A Short Account of Early Muslim Architec- 
ture. Beirut: Librarie du Liban, 1958. 

Creswell, K. A. C. Eai h \Iusl ' Id. ed. < ford 

U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1969. 

' ,1 ill ii, ( >[ g / ' [Inly: L Is/a , i 

Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996. 

Johns, Jeremy, ed. Btiyt til Mar/dis. Part II: Jerusalem a tic! Early 
Islam. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2000. 

Nuseibeh, Said, and ( rrabar, < )leg. The Dome of the Rock. New 
York: Rizzoli, 1997. 

Sheila S. Blair 
Jonathan M. Bloom 


Muslims throughout history have attached great importance 
to dreams. Portions of the Qur'an were believed to have been 
revealed to Muhammad in dreams. Muhammad was also 
thought to have received numerous prophetic dreams. Aloreo 
ver, dreams were considered the primary means by which 
God would communicate v ith Muslims following the death 
of Muhammad and the cessation of Qur'anic revelation. 
Indeed, according to tradition, on the day before his death 
Muhammad declared., "When I am gone, there shall remain 
naught of the glad-tidings of prophecy, except for true 

Medieval Muslims cultivated numerous forms of litera- 
ture on dreams. Accounts of dreams were collected to estab- 
lish the sanctity of those who saw the dreams, a practice 
especially common among Sufis. Accounts of dreams were 
also collected to resolve points of controversy, to determine 
the proper reading and interpretation of the Qur'an, for 
instance, or to resolve legal or theological debates. Espe- 
cially important, in this regard, were dreams in which the 
prophet Muhammad appeared, because, according to tradi- 
tion, Muhammad himself had declared, "Whoever sees me in 
a dream has seen me in truth, for Satan cannot imitate me in a 
dream." Also of great importance was the dream manual, a 
work that taught its readers how to interpret their dreams. 
Many Muslim dream manuals u ere associated with Ibn Sirin 
(d. 728), the eponymous founder of the genre. While there is 
little reason to think that Ibn Sirin was in fact the author of a 
dream manual, it is certain that he was responsible for putting 
into oral circulation much dream lore. 

the philosopher Ibn Sina (d. 1037). Prominent later dream 
manuals include works written by al-Salimi (d. 1397), Ibn 
Shahin (d. 1468), and al-Nabulsi (d. 1730). Many Muslim 
dream manuals made heavy use of the Greco-Roman tradi- 
tion of dream interpretation. t< i u inch access w as had through 
the dream manual of Artemidorus, a Greek work composed 
in Asia Minor in the second century c.e. and translated into 
Arabic by the Christian physician iiunaui b. Ishaq (d. 877). It 
would be hard to overemphasize the importance of dream 
interpretation to medieval Muslims. Hundreds of dream 
manuals have been preserved, some in Arabic, others in 
Persian and Turkish. 

Modern Muslims have been, not surprisingly, divided in 
their reception of dream interpretation. Some have cast it 
aside as superstitious nonsense, while others have sought to 
appropriate it through reinterpretation, suggesting that it 

foreshadows the discoveries of Sigmimd Freud and Carl Jung. 
Yet others, especially Sufis and traditionalists, have shown 
little hesitation in proclaiming the continuing validity of this 
ancient tradition. 


Fahd, Toufn / I i ) eiden: E.J. Brill, 1966. 

Ivatz, Jonathan C. I i ; nil I Leiden, E.J. 

Brill, 1996. 
Lamoreaux, John C. The Early Muslim Tradition of Dream 

Interpretation. Albany: State University of New York 

Press, 2002. 
Schimmel, Annemarie. Die Triiume ties Kalifen. Munich: C. H. 

Beck, 1998. 

John C. Lamoreaux 

Famous early dream manuals \\ 
Ibn Qutaybah (d. 889), the histoi 

ritten by the litterateur 
J-Tabari (d. 923), and 


} the prescribed rituals of Islam, such as the daily 
prayers, the du'a is generally a spontaneous, unstructured, 
conversation with God. There are, however, prescribed 

uppli i ion > / ' / h i isidered particular! 

propitious because of their scriptural origins. 

Whereas form is essential for the performance of the 
prescrilx I i im il con < ion m i < enti \\lodu Vnd when 
every du'a is a form of prayer, only a prayer performed 
conscientiously becomes a iln'a. The du'a is the very essence 
of worship because it venerates God, celebrates His sublime 
attributes, and puts trust in i lim. Specific requests, however, 
are frowned upon: A du'a is considered most auspicious when 
framed broadly to seek protection from evil, solicit the good 
of this world, and salvation in the afterlife. 

For the believer, supplications are always answered, but 
not in the form of a wish list. Human beings, il is said, lack the 

capacity to distinguish good from evil, and often solicit, and BIBLIOGRAPHY 

are denied, that which is essentially harmful to them. Ghazali, Muhammad al-. Remembrance and Prayer: The Way of 

the Prophet Muhammad, Translated by Y. T. DeLorenzo. 

. , , , . . . rr ., Beltsville, Md.: Amana Publications, 1996. 

A clii n also serves as an incantation lo ward oil evil, or 

secure grace. A traveler, for instance, is encouraged to read: Nakamura, Kojiro. Invocations and , tions: B IX oj 

"In Cod s name lei its run he. and lei its stopping be ~ „ J . , * b 

vv & Texts Society, 1990. 

See also Devotional Life; 'Ibadat. Muneer Goolam Fareed 


Islam has spread to all parts of East Asia, a region that features 
some of the world's major centers of Islamic influence. 


With a Muslim population conservatively estimated at twenty 
million, China today has a largi ilaiion than 

most of the Arab countries of the Middle East, and yet few 
scholars have concentrated on this unique community lo- 
cated at the far reaches of the Muslim world. Of China's fifty- 
five officially recognized minori: na's majority 
ethnic group is known as Han Chinese), ten are primarily 
Muslim: the Hui, Uighur, Kazak 

Tajik, Uzbek, Bonan, and Tatar. The largest group, the Hui, 
are spread throughout the entire country, while the other 
nine live primarily in the northwest. 

As a result of the extensive sea trade networks between 
China and So a ting back to Roman times, there 

have been Muslims in China since shortly after the advent of 
Islam. Small communities of Mi id merchants 

survived for centuries in cities ale utheast coast, 

the most famous settlements being Canton and Quanzhou 
(Zaitun in the Arabic sources). During the first several centu- 
ries there was ween the Muslim trad- 
ers and the local Chinese population. It was not until the 
thirteenth century with the establishment of the Mongolian 
Yuan dynasty (1278-1368) that thousands of Muslims from 
Central and Western Asia were both forcibly moved to China 
by the Mongols as well as recruited by them to assist in their 
governance of their newly acquired territories. Although 
some of the 1 ay have been 
able to arrange marriages with women from their places of 
origin, it is generally assumed that most of the soldiers, 
officials, craft lers who settled in China during 
this early period married local women. Despite centuries of 
intermarriage, the Muslims who arrived at this time were able 

to establish c 

their cultural and religious traditi 

j survived with many of 
ls intact down to this day. 

During the early part of the Ming period (1 368-1644), the 
emperor Yongle ordered Zheng He, a Muslim eunuch from 
Yunnan in southwest China, to lead a series of massive naval 
Id. In all, between 1405 
and 1432, se\ ditions were launched involving 

hundred of Chinese vessels and thousands of tons of goods 
and valuables to be u utheast Asian 

archipelago, the Indian Ocean, and as far as the east coast of 
Africa. The success of these trading expeditions was no doubt 
in part due to Zheng He's religi ty to interact 

with many of encountered 

along the way. However, shortly after the death of the Yongle 
emperor, China's cosmopolitan and international initiatives 
gave way to a period of conservatism and the redirection of 
imperial resources toward domestic issues and projects. Dur- 
ing this period numerous laws were passed requiring "for- 
eigners" to dress like Chinese, adopt Chinese surnames, 
trance become Chinese. 

Despite these res nts, the Muslims 

of China continued to actively practice their faith and pass it 
on to their descendants. By the end of the Ming dynasty there 
were enough im intellectuals thoroughly edu- 

cated in the classical C< in that several scholars 

developed a new Islan :>us works on 

Islam written in Chinese that incorporated the vocabulary of 
Confucian, B fht These texts, known 

as the Han Kitab, were not apologist treatises written to 
explain Islam to a non-Muslim Chinese audience, but were 
rather a reflection of the degree to which the Muslims of 
China had become completely conversant in intellectual 
traditions of the society in which they lived. Moreover, as 
more and more Chinese Muslims lost their fluency in Arabic 
and Persian, it became clear that in order to insure that future 
generations of Muslims were able to have a sophisticated 

return they started i 
by translating the m 
and thus making- die 

evitalize Islamic studie 
t important Islamic texts into Chines' 
. more accessible. 

Small groups of merchant and artisan Muslims were present in 
China just after the rise of Islam. This mosque in Linxia, Gansu 
Province, is topped with a pagoda-shaped minaret, an elegant 
example of how Chinese Muslims have combined two cultures. © 

Bohemian Nomad Picturemakers/Corbis 

understanding- of their faith, religious texts had to be written 
in Chinese. 

The linguistic challenges of transliterating Arabic and 
Persian religious terms and proper names into Chinese also 
facilitated the blending of Chinese and Islamic principles as 
( Ihinese Muslim authors soughtto create new Chinese terms 
to replace Arabic and Persian ones. Several of these terms are 
striking in their ability to use traditional Chinese characters 
to reflect fundamental Islamic concepts: God is translated as 
zhenzhu, or "the true loi 1 Islam i // ben j »,or"thepure 
and true religion"; the five pillars of Islam become the five 
constants, wu chang; and the prophet Muhammad is known as 
zhisheng, or "utmost sage." 

In 1644, the Qing dynasty was established, marking the 
beginning of a period of unparalleled growth and expansion, 
both in terms of territory and population. Travel restrictions 
were lifted, and the Muslims of China were once again 
allowed to make the pilgrimage to Mecca and study in the 
major centers of learning in the Islamic world. During this 
period several Hui scholars studied abroad and upon their 

Despite the opportunities for travel and study that arose 
during this period, the Qing dynasty also represented a 

period of unparalleled violence against the Muslims of China. 
As reform movements led by Muslims who had studied 
overseas spread, conflicts arose between different communi- 
ties. In several instances the government intervened, sup- 
porting one group against another, leading to an exacerbation 
of the conflict, outbreaks of mass violence and the eventual 
slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, and several 

In southwest China, it was the growing number of Han 
Chinese migrants moving into areas where Muslims had lived 
for centuries that led to violent conflicts. During the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries, ( ihina experienced a massive 
population explosion resulting in millions of Han Chinese 
moving into the frontier regions. As more immigrants moved 
into Yunnan province along the southwest frontier, there 
were increasing clashes with the Hui who had settled there in 
the thirteenth century and whose population is estimated to 
have been one million. In a series of disputes between newly 
arrived Han migrants and Hui who had lived there for 
centuries, local Han Chinese officials (who themselves were 
not local residents), repeatedly decided to support their 
fellow I Ian Chinese against the local residents. Fighting 
escalated and eventually a Chinese Muslim leader led a 
rebellion and in 1856 established an independent Islamic 
state centered in Dali, in northwest Yunnan. The state 
survived for almost sixteen years, and the Muslims worked 
closeh together with other indigenous peoples. Eventually, 
however, the Chinese emperor ordered his troops to concen- 
trate their efforts on destroying it. The massacres that ensued 
wiped out the majority of Muslims in Yunnan. Some fled to 
nearby Thailand, and their descendants still live there, while 
others fled to Burma or neighboring provinces. Estimates of 
those killed range from 60 to 85 percent, and more than a 
century later, their population has still not recovered its 
original number. Another consequence of the rebellion was a 
series of government regulations severely restricting the lives 
of Muslims. 

In the aftermath of the rebellions, the first priority of the 
survivors was to pool their resources, rebuild their mosques, 
and open Islamic schools. Having lost most of their material 
possessions, they were clearly determined not to lose their 
religious le Phis period saw ren wed contact with olher 

centers of learning in the Muslim world and the establish 
ment of schools that concentrated equally on secular and 
religious education. 

The collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911 was followed by 
a period of unrest and warlordism. After the rise of the 
Guomindang and the Chinese Communist Party, a civil war 

ensued, in which both parties sought the support of the 
nation's largest minority groups with promises of religious 
freedom and limited self go\ ernmenl . Many of the Muslims 
chose to support the Communists, and in the initial period of 

the People's Republic of China, the Muslim rninoril) peoples 
enjoyed a period of religious freedom. However, during 
subsequent political campaigns, culminating with the Cul- 
tural Revolution (1966-1976), the Muslims of China found 
their religion outlawed; their religious leaders persecuted, 
imprisoned, and even killed; and their mosques defiled, if not 
(} ed. During this period all worship and religious edu- 
cation were forbidden, and even simple common utterances 
such as iiishu'ulluh (God u tiling), or,// hawdnlillah (thanks be 
to God) could cause Muslims to be punished. Despite the 
danger. Muslims in many parts of China continued their 
religious studies in secret. 

In the years immediate!-, following the Cultural Revolu- 
tion, the Muslims of China lost no time in rebuilding their 
devastated communities. Throughout China,